TRADING FOR A CENTER

When the Edmonton Oilers dealt for Jerred Smithson at the trade deadline in the spring, it was no surprise to Oilers fans. Sure, the name might have been worth a raised eyebrow (the price was steep) but the club addressing a need in the middle was a well known fact.

Which remains.

At this point, the Oilers pro depth chart at the position looks like this for opening night (RNH isn’t included due to injury):

  1. Taylor Hall
  2. Sam Gagner
  3. Boyd Gordon
  4. Will Acton
  5. Anton Lander
  6. Mark Arcobello
  7. Andrew Miller
  8. Ryan Martindale
  9. CJ Stretch
  10. Travis Ewanyk
  11. Jujhar Khaira

Sure thing in bold, pushing for jobs underlined, the rest are also-rans. Folks, that’s not a great depth chart and the Oilers have addressed need everywhere–except at center. I’ve cried wolf over “balance” and “they’re going to make a trade” since the day this blog was born, and I don’t blame you a bit if you snicker or roll eyes or guffaw.

I believe the Oilers will procure a player who can play center. It makes too much sense. If the NHL team is (for instance) Hall, Gagner, Gordon, new guy, Acton, that’s 5 players who can play NHL center and are on the roster. It leaves the OKC Barons with a depth chart of Arcobello, Lander, Miller and then Stretch versus Martindale for the 4 job with Ewanyk trying to push his way into the everyday lineup (and Khaira off to the American Northwest).

WHO?

Don’t know. Maybe it’s Ottawa’s Jim O’Brien from the waiver wire or maybe it’s Ottawa’s Zack Smith via trade. Maybe it’s Justin Abdelkader, or maybe it’s someone we know and wouldn’t name if we rolled out 100 names. I just keep looking at that depth chart and not being impressed by the depth beyond #3 C.

And it bugs me. Because Craig MacTavish has addressed defense and goaltending (at the pro level) and even added wingers even though some of us felt there was enough of them. At center? Sent away Horcoff and VandeVelde, brought in Gordon and Acton.

It makes too much sense. Based on his previous actions, Craig MacTavish will add a center. Maybe not before opening night, but before too long. Logic and reason reside in the Oiler offices.

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44 Responses to "TRADING FOR A CENTER"

  1. Hammers says:

    You still need someone to trade with but I also feel as you do .. It will probably be a waiver wire player so not mutch different from Acton and Lander. Best bet maybe to run with Hall , RNH , Gags & Gordon with the other 2 for call ups .

  2. stevezie says:

    Who do you see going that is worth “sold 4th line C”? (Meaning, to me, not better than Gordon but good enough to play up as required.) The position where we have extra NHLers is wing, but are we going to trade newly resigned Ryan Jones? Or Jesse Jonesu? I can’t imagine Omark is bursting with value. Wouldn’t one of our promising D be an overpay? Who’s on our block?

    UFA market? The way I see it we want someone good enough to move up to lw on the third line when it’s time to shorten the bench. Kyle Wellwood looks nice, but he’s another small forward, maybe we’re sick of those. Antropov priced himself out of the NHL. I don’t think Smithson or Steckel are good enough.

  3. VanOil says:

    I am still surprised Malhotra was not offered a PTO at the start of camp. It is possible he will never be able to play hockey again but he could teamed up with Gordon and given the youngsters a clinic on how to take faceoffs for a month.

    NYI seem to be a team rich with centers. I am not sure what it will take to pry out there scraps.

    Bogdan and Kharia seem what at least 2 years away?

  4. stevezie says:

    Hammers,

    I don’t know, I think if we’re healthy RNH-Gagner-Gordon is a fine top 3. Lander and Acton aren’t great but I think they can manage 4th line duties. The problems come when the inevitable injuries hit- your 4th line centre needs to be good enough to play third line- ideally good enough to sub our mediocre 3rd line winger out when the game is close.

    Your plan of keeping Hall and Gagner at C addresses this, but now our LW depth is the problem. We need one more good player to just appear. MacT seems to resent his predecessor for trading away his draft picks, but that wouldn’t be the worst plan right now (if the right guy is out there.)

    Or Dillon SImpson. Don’t know his value, but that would make sense.

    Unrelated: I’m starting to dream that Hemsky is going to rejuvenate just a little this year. Not back to his point-a-game when healthy mode, but not the disappointment that was last season either. Maybe a nice 55 point winger… Oh man, that would be nice.

  5. Manitoba Oilers says:

    LT abdelkator is a winger did you mean helm

  6. hunter1909 says:

    stevezie: Unrelated: I’m starting to dream that Hemsky is going to rejuvenate just a little this year. Not back to his point-a-game when healthy mode, but not the disappointment that was last season either. Maybe a nice 55 point winger… Oh man, that would be nice.

    Masochist.

    Hemsky has always been a prima donna. His game alas, doesn’t contain anything much resembling a go-to player. He’s a top six NHL winger with exceptional ability to gain the zone, but once there tends to lose his train of thought.

    Eberle and Yakupov make Hemsky redundant.

  7. VanOil says:

    stevezie,

    I share that Hemsky dream. Oilers look to have the one of best 1,2,3 punches down the right hand side in hockey. In my dream he earns a 3 year 3 million dollar contract and Matheson drops the microphone and retires.

    Leaving us only a 4th line center and 3/4 left winger away from hockey glory.

  8. bookje says:

    I think they REALLY want Hall at centre and are leaving a shortage there to pressure Hall to stay there.

  9. stevezie says:

    hunter1909: Masochist

    Probably, but there was a time when he was a go-to player. The narrative that he looks pretty but was never really no good to nobody doesn’t hold with history. He delivered all the way to the finals and followed that up with several years of solid production.

    His process looked better than his results (or worse, depending on your particular brand of whimsy), and he never could stay healthy,. He might be permanently reduced to 40 point poweplay/shootout specialist which probably means he’s not long for North America.

    But c’mon. The guy has delivered.

  10. Ducey says:

    How about Joe Colborne from the Leaves?

    He is 6’5″, a pupil of Eakins, and had decent numbers last year (42 pts in 65 AHL games). He also may be available cheap: http://theleafsnation.com/2013/9/20/joe-colborne-trade-maple-leafs-miley-cyrus-twerk-video

    (the link should be safe – I am not sure why it has the reference to miley cyrus :))

  11. LostBoy says:

    Manitoba Oilers:
    LT abdelkator is a winger did you mean helm

    Abdelkader plays both center and wing. He played wing more this past season with Andersson becoming established, but the guy has taken 1,325 faceoffs the past four seasons and is excellent on the dot (52.0%+ in each season). In 2011-2012 he took more faceoffs for the Wings than Filppula. He’s as good a faceoff man as Helm, though Helm is a pure C.

  12. Lowetide says:

    Early, early days. Kyle Platzer with 2 goals tonight for London.

  13. LMHF#1 says:

    There’s no need to trade. Sign someone or PTO 3 or 4 of them. Tons of quality left out there.

  14. ASkoreyko says:

    bookje:
    I think they REALLY want Hall at centre and are leaving a shortage there to pressure Hall to stay there.

    I was just about to write the same thing. Hall has said that he does not like playing C, but the team needs him there so he will play it. That argument doesn’t really hold water if they bring in Zack Smith. I also think that is why MacT keeps saying November 1st, he wants the message to Hall to be clear that he is going to playing C for more than a few games and better take it seriously.

    But then again, we could be giving even MacT to much credit…

  15. FastOil says:

    The Oilers keep putting people in key positions with no experience and they keep failing. Craig MacTavish needs to decide he’s going to enter the theatre of GM’s with a plan. He has beaked in the media about how he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    Great he’s brought in top end non NHL competition. Certainly ups the ante. It is far from fixing the two big issues – no top pairing quality D and no C depth in the system.

    I am sure it’s hard to deal. Might even take deciding what desired asset you have is over valued to acquire what you need.

    Like the big boys.

  16. Woodguy says:

    Lowetide:
    Early, early days. Kyle Platzer with 2 goals tonight for London.

    After leading the Oiler rookies in scoring at rookie camp.

    96th overall.

    Mike’s draft thing-a-majiggy looks to have early returns if the Oilers used it and it spit Platzer’s name out.

  17. Woodguy says:

    FastOil,

    Great he’s brought in top end non NHL competition.

    Gordon, Perron and Ferrence say hello.

  18. speeds says:

    LT (or anyone), if MacT is looking to add someone, do you think it would be easier/better to leave Hall at C and then try to add a LW like Raymond or Prospal?

  19. Lowetide says:

    speeds:
    LT (or anyone), if MacT is looking to add someone, do you think it would be easier/better to leave Hall at C and then try to add a LW like Raymond or Prospal?

    Great question. I guess it comes down to whether or not they feel Hall and the team are best served with the position change. Raymond not signing with the Leafs yet is interesting.

  20. OilClog says:

    VandeVelde probably placed a few calls into the office for a couple weeks wondering where everyone went.. I believe he was just forgotten about, more so then sent away lol

    Watching the film of the stars GM telling them Benn is the new captain.. poor Horc sitting all by himself with his socks up to his knees..

    I wonder if we’re one of the teams Morrow has talked to? Probably not, but it would be nice to know they’re out there looking for more.

  21. RexLibris says:

    Abdelkader? I would be ecstatic. Young, fast, hard to play against, and playoff-tested. He’d be a great 4th line pickup. Not sure what it would take to get him, though, so I’ll leave that to other minds.

    As much as I think the Oilers try to move Hall to C, I also think they start the process of moving Gagner to the wing (ideally LW, because I think it is safe to say that RW is full).

  22. Dead Cat Bounce says:

    Lowetide: Great question. I guess it comes down to whether or not they feel Hall and the team are best served with the position change. Raymond not signing with the Leafs yet is interesting.

    Raymond has a deal in place with the Leafs for $950K.

    The Leafs are awaiting a Franson signing before making it official.

  23. Woodguy says:

    Ducey:
    How about Joe Colborne from the Leaves?

    He is 6’5″, a pupil of Eakins, and had decent numbers last year (42 pts in 65 AHL games). He also may be available cheap: http://theleafsnation.com/2013/9/20/joe-colborne-trade-maple-leafs-miley-cyrus-twerk-video

    (the link should be safe – I am not sure why it has the reference to miley cyrus )

    I like that idea more than any other suggestion for 4C.

    42pts in 65gm in the AHL is pretty good. Familiar with Eakin.

    They might be forced to waive him, but I bet Calgary picks him up first.

  24. ASkoreyko says:

    Dead Cat Bounce: Raymond has a deal in place with the Leafs for $950K.

    The Leafs are awaiting a Franson signing before making it official.

    Wellwood 2.0

  25. Ribs says:

    Ducey: (the link should be safe – I am not sure why it has the reference to miley cyrus )

    That’s one way to get your site banned from Google…

    Platzer! Is he getting the London Push this season? Were either PP goals?

  26. Dead Cat Bounce says:

    ASkoreyko: Wellwood 2.0

    He’s a pretty good complimentary player.

    So is Wellwood.

    I’d take either one before paying Ryan Jones $1.5M.

  27. Lowetide says:

    Dreger was tweeting today that Raymond may not sign with Toronto. Raymond likely to get a better offer elsewhere.

  28. RexLibris says:

    Lowetide:
    Dreger was tweeting today that Raymond may not sign with Toronto. Raymond likely to get a better offer elsewhere.

    What, packing shelves at a Sobey’s?

    Sorry, I have Leafs’ insult Tourettes.

  29. wuthering says:

    Gordon was a great signing. Watched him play in Red Deer–just a terrific skater and great two-way awareness; even as a 16 year old (iirc). He’s got better hands than one would think–when your stuck taking draws in your own zone flanked by fence posts you aren’t going to be shooting top-cheddar very often.

    Ran into one of Jujhar’s Michigan Tech coaches on a golf course in BC a few weeks ago (yeah, that’s about as vague as I need to be). After the round I saddled up at the bar and found a nice bottle of BC Ex Nihilo Pinot Noir and started talking to a guy beside me. Discovered he was a coach of Jujhar. This was just after Jar (as he called him) signed with Edmonton so I asked him about it. He called McTavish and asked why the Oilers were so keen to sign him. McTavish told him that it was all on the agent pushing for him to sign. The impression he gave me was that the Oilers were not pushing for him to sign at all. He was very disappointed in losing him. Felt that he was going to be integral to their team this year. He also thought he was going to dominate the WHL season, should he play there. My bad not sharing this awhile ago, though it’s not really any news other than anecdotal. Summer is almost gone and I try and enjoy every second of it knowing another 7 month winter is probably in store.

  30. Dead Cat Bounce says:

    RexLibris: What, packing shelves at a Sobey’s?

    Sorry, I have Leafs’ insult Tourettes.

    Is that replacing your Flames OCD or just another facet of your character?

  31. stevezie says:

    Dead Cat Bounce,

    Yes. I unironically, unsarcastically, and in a voice that is in all ways genuine think that Kyle Wellwood would fit this team’s need well. He can defend, play a role, and is a decent scorer if you suddenly need that.

    It would be nice to inject some variety in the line up and get a bigger guy, but I’d rather have good-small than mediocre-big. Right?

  32. Lowetide says:

    Wuthering: Very interesting, thanks for sharing. The anecdote makes sense.

  33. wuthering says:

    Lowetide,

    Thanks, though truth be told there’s a little fog surrounding the better details. As these sort of conversations often go, one bottle turned into, well, more.

  34. Andropod says:

    Are we in the mix for Morrow? Would he be useful to us? Or is he another Ryan Whitney, all washed up and nowhere to go?
    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=432373

  35. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    “RNH isn’t exluded due to injury”

    So why is he excluded? Because babies are ineligible?

  36. Lowetide says:

    exluded. Man, that’s some terrible spelling there.

  37. till_horcoff_is_coach says:

    Instead of double-shifting Hall at LW, what about giving his regular shift at LW with the odd double-shift at C?

    That would cut Acton’s time down to about 4 ES mins a night….

  38. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Does Wellwood PK?

    I think MacT is going to look for a PKer for the 4thC if not Lander/Acton.

    Colbourne is an interesting choice. I still like Smith… and still think Thoresen should be sent a box of kinder eggs or something to woo him.

    Keeping Hall at C and putting Gordon on the 4th line solves a lot of problems, esp. if you can find a cheap winger…. what is Raymond looking for?

    Does anyone know if we ever chased Max. Lap? I think we probably didn’t for “character” issues… but that contract would solve this whole problem.

  39. borisnikov says:

    LT is 100% correct in saying the team needs 5 guys who can play center effectively on the roster. Acton hasn’t play a single NHL game and Lander isn’t (and may never be) ready. If the goal really is the playoffs then acquiring another legitimate NHL 3/4 C is necessary to ensure the playoffs are reached. The Oilers need to be past the point of trying guys out in the NHL to see if they can cut it… in the NHL.

    If Hall continues as he has thus far then keep him at center after Nuge is back. RNH, Gagne, Gordon is a decent depth chart but one with Hall and Nuge at the top is better.

    Depth, depth, depth. It’s the only way for them to find the end of the rainbow.

  40. G Money says:

    wuthering: found a nice bottle of BC Ex Nihilo Pinot Noir

    A few years ago, on my last Okanagan Wine Tour, Ex Nihilo was one of our stops. Very pleasant, very small. I wish I liked the wine better, in all honesty. The founder is from Edmonton, so quite possibly an Oilers fan.

    Romulus Apotheosis: Does anyone know if we ever chased Max. Lap? I think we probably didn’t for “character” issues… but that contract would solve this whole problem.

    Since before free agency opened, in virtually every one of my LT and ON posts on the topic (>30 I would guess), I was pounding the drum for signing Mason Raymond as 3L and either Wellwood or Max Lap as 4C.

    Now it is true that all are flawed players, and arguably not great fits on 3/4 lines. BUT … the fact is that all three are capable, genuine NHL-level players, and if we had them we would not be having any doubts about the ability of our third or fourth lines to play actual NHL level hockey.

  41. Bulging Twine says:

    “And it bugs me. Because Craig MacTavish has addressed defense and goaltending (at the pro level) and even added wingers even though some of us felt there was enough of them. At center? Sent away Horcoff and VandeVelde, brought in Gordon and Acton”.

    I think that MacTavish overestimated Miller and really likes or at least wants to see what Arcobello can do. He said as much.

  42. Bulging Twine says:

    Ducey:
    How about Joe Colborne from the Leaves?

    I was worried about this when I read that they may move him. I don’t like his game much at all.

  43. Bulging Twine says:

    “Maybe it’s Ottawa’s Jim O’Brien from the waiver wire”
    Interesting…I liked him two years ago in the playoffs against NYR. I would be in favor of grabbing him.

    Is Smithson > Acton? I didn’t see him much last year.
    “70% on short-handed face-offs in his own zone”!!!! or something (sarcastic)

    Colin Fraser may be cut…I don’t want to go there again.

  44. Big Dan says:

    Somebody mentioned Brian Boyle. He’s a miserable SOB that rises to the occasion in the playoffs. Just the kind of tough customer Oilers need.

    If we could parlay Lander via trade for a Brodziak or Boyle, I’d be a happy customer. Lander is going to be a NHLer but we need somebody better now.

    I’d also love to see Brenden Morrow on the 3rd line for $950K, and the only two dumb signings by MacT (Jones, Grebeshkov) in the pressbox for most of the year.

    And Ryan Smyth as captain.

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