<p> It's obvious to most that Edmonton's biggest need is on the Blue line. With all the tinkering to the bottom 6 forwards, drafting of the high end skill forwards and masterful fixing of the goaltending, Mac T's biggest focus will be on the defense.</p>rn<p> It is highly unlikely that the Oilers will be able to fix the blueline in free agency, or that the prospects like Nurse,Klefbom and potentially Eckblad will be able to reverse the teams fortunes right away, so this will have to happen by trade.</p>rnrn<p>Let's analyze the current group, and decides who stays and who goes. Jeff Petry is likely one of the most under-rated D-men in the league.In classic Oilers fashion, he is somewhat mis-cast as a top pair D, when he is likely a 2nd pairing defender at best,which is fine, except his confidence is probably so low that it would be best if both parties moved on.. One of the bright spots has been the play of his partner, Martin Marincin, who leads the D core in +/-, a highly under-rated and under used statistic. Justin Schultz has all the potential to be a classic 2nd pair D, and with a pretty good 2nd pairing player, but his defensive lapses, should probably play bottom pair minutes with Power Play time. Andrew Ferrence should probably be moved, but that is unlikely given the contract value, term and NMC, so he sits on the 3rd pairing . Klefbom should probably be in the minors for one more year, filling in on the big club when injuries and opportunity present them selves. All in all, the Oil have a not bad 2nd pair and veteran #5, leaving the small task of acquiring 2 top pairing D-men and another bottom.</p>rnrn<p> Everybody knows that the one guy that can anchor this blue line is the current captain of the Nashville Predators, Shea Weber, so let's just focus on getting this deal done. The only way they move their franchise defenseman, the rarest of commododites, id for an elite forward. Since they seem to come by much easier, the price will be elite forward +,+!! Steep price to pay for a Top 3 Defensemen with prime years and contract term. I think the conversation starts with Hall, and finishes with adding Nurse to eventually replace Weber, and Sam Gagner to fill the hole left by Legwand</p>rnrn<p> The next step will have to be finding the right partner for Weber. Looking at his skill set, and analyzing his play in the last 1.5 years, it's obvious he misses Gary Suter as his partner. So how do you find a player with the exact same skill set as Suter? You can't! You go after the man himself.The only 2 problems with Suter are his contract, and fitting it under the cap, and providing a decent enough return to get it done. Minnesota has a solid 2-way center in Koivu, but have never had a flashy skilled Center with the talent of Nugent-Hopkins. The salary trade off works for both teams, but in terms of value is very lopsided in Edmonton's favour, not to mention the gap on the Wild's blueline. Edmonton will probably have to sweeten the deal by adding Petry and the chance to draft the next Chris Pronger in Aaron Eckblad. This trade hinges on the Oilers position at the draft, but let's call it a done deal.</p>rnrn<p> Now we need that partner for Martin Marincin. He needs to be a veteran so he can keep an eye on his partner, make sure he doesn't screw up too often. Experienced Blueliners are hard to find, but I think Detroit would be interested in a deal. On the verge of a rebuild, they would love to acquire a Jordan Eberle to fill in one of the spots that will be abandoned by Zetterberg or Alfredsson when they decide to pack it in. Straight is pretty fair IMO.</p>rnrn<p> Lastly, we need that veteran D for the bottom pair. We are building an elite blue line, not an average one, so let's not scrimp on Ferrences partner here.A quality role player will need a quality role player in return, so I propose a trade with LA. Robin Regehr is exactly the kind of guy we need on the back end. Big ,mean, tough, and with Hemsky no longer on the team, we don't need to worry about hard feelings that might polarize the room. Yakupov needs a fresh start,and his value has dropped significantly , so if we could move him for a pair of 2nd round draft picks , we could in turn flip those for Regehr, which is the exact cost it would take to get him, since that is what LA paid a few years ago to Buffalo.</p>rn<p> So there you have it.Arguably the best defense in the league. Mac T will have to be pretty busy to pull it off, but I have confidence. Please, if I missed anything, please leave a comment below, but I'm pretty sure this spells Stanley Cup Champions in the end. </p>
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