Is no news good news?
The top story on the Oilers webpage today is an article promoting the Bryan Adams concert on Friday at Telus Field. Yeah. Actually I had the idea once for the Gag Me with a Canadian Music Tour featuring Celine Dion, with Bryan Adams and Shania Twain as the warm-up acts. Talk about a hat trick no one would ever want to score.
I feel like making something up in today's blog, but the problem is, all the good stories are exhausted already. Dany Heatley to Edmonton? Yawn. Mats Sundin to sign as a UFA? Doubt it. Phil Kessel an Oiler? Not gonna happen. The Oilers are capped out; trade ideas are tapped out; time to make a big deal has run out.
I suppose it is unfair to show such disrespect for some perfectly entertaining hockey rumors. Truth is, admit it or not, the Oilers front office is fully aware that this is not a team which is a threat in this year's edition of the NHL. The plan though isn't to solve the problems overnight. The important job at hand this year is for Quinn and Renney to wake the players up, and to evaluate the talent they have so the Oilers become a contender for seasons to come.
Everyone in Oilerville wants to know if a trade or two will happen before the puck drops on the season. Maybe. You never know, right? I suspect if the Oilers do make a deal or two, it will be to move one to two forwards, and a defenseman, for draft picks. Victims of their own efficiency in signing players, the Oilers are close to the 50 player contract limit, and some players need to go for prospects. Who's in and who's out? It all depends on the willingness of a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs or New York Islanders to give up, let's say, a 4th round pick for Rob Schremp. Would anyone part with a pick for players like Marc Pouliot, JF Jacques, Rob Schremp or Steve MacIntyre? Wisdom suggests that they do not have much of a future in Edmonton, and should be moved if a return can be found.
Where the shock is going to come in training camp won't be in the form of a trade, but will be the willingness for Quinn and Renney to give serious consideration to a young talent. While everyone is talking about Jordan Eberle going to the AHL this season, I wouldn't be surprised if he earns a shot on the team. Why? For one thing, Sam Gagner two seasons ago looked pretty good in Edmonton as an 18 year old, so we know young players can contribute. The Oilers also are starving for goals from the wing, and Eberle can score. Perhaps most important to the discussion is a attribute Eberle and Gagner have in common: They both want to win. They have drive.
Think about the Oilers season last year. Was a lack of talent the problem in Edmonton, or was it a lack of drive? There are very few teams that draft the talent the Oilers do. The Oilers roster has depth and potential to find scoring from all four forward lines, yet last season, they played lazy hockey half the season. The challenge now is to put together a group that wants to win, thinks it can win, and shows up every game. These elements considered, Eberle fits. For that matter, if you believe what you read, Schremp might fit too. Everyone has been ripping him for two seasons now, and Robbie just might have the frustration needed to go out there and prove he belongs.
The Oil did a great job at the draft this year selecting Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, who definitely is driven. He has the Glenn Anderson ability to skate 100 miles an hour and crash the net while scoring. The Oilers are loaded with young talented players drafted because they want to be winners. The future will be amazing in Edmonton without needing to make many trades. Perhaps patience by fans and management this season is more important than bringing in a Heatley or a Sundin.
It wouldn't be Hockeybuzz if I didn't provide at least one random rumor, so here goes: Forget Heatley to the Rangers, as there is no way his salary could be added. San Jose opened a little cap space recently, but they lack the players needed to acquire Heatley. So an Edmonton to San Jose trade could happen to facilitate an Ottawa deal. Today's rumor: The Oilers send Dustin Penner and Laddy Smid to San Jose for Johnathan Cheechoo and a first round pick in 2010. Considering the likelihood that San Jose will have a decent season, the 1st round pick would be 22nd to 30th overall.
Once the Sharks land Penner and Smid, they will be shipped with another Sharks asset to Ottawa for, you guessed it, Dany Heatley. The Oilers get a winger in Cheechoo who has had a big goal scoring season, and a first rounder, while clearing cap space to add a rental player or two at the trade deadline if they are in a playoff position. The Sharks get an all-star to play with Thorton, and Ottawa gets rid of their biggest headache in history...or at least, since Ray Emery. Or Yashin. Or Daigle. Is something wrong with the water in Ottawa? Must be the politicians.