So the trade deadline has come and gone, and with the Dustin Penner trade pulled off by Steve Tambelini, I think you can start to understand the map outlining the course that is potentially to be the Oilers rebuild. It has been known that the Oilers are set on building through the draft, last year made this very clear.... but the fact that Tambelini did not bring in a NHL ready prospect to help the Oilers now makes me wonder exactly how far management thinks this team is away from challenging for a playoff spot.... it will be at least another year, if not two.
But since Tambelini focused on a defensive prospect this trade deadline, you would think that he may try to shift focus at this years draft and go after a center that this team so desperately needs like Nugent-Hopkins or Couturier. I don’t buy it, not for one minute. The back end of this team needs help, a lot of help, and if Edmonton has the opportunity to draft a young defenseman, oh I don’t know, say Adam Larsson, then they should. He is a franchise type d-man.... and these types of players don’t come along very often. Larsson has offensive flare, is a big body, and has a bit more edge than people think. As a 18 year old he fought a man 12 years older than him in the Swedish Elite League... he is not too far off from being NHL ready. Why would Edmonton waste their first overall pick on a center and pass over Larsson when there is a much better option available? The reason why I think the Oilers will draft Larsson instead of the center that they so desperately need.... July 1st a young , highly skilled center from the NJ Devils is set to become an RFA.... Zack Parise.
Edmonton has a history of attempting to sign RFA's ( Vanek, Penner). Granted, these successful/unsuccessful signings were all done under the educated guidance of Kevin Lowe.... there is a reason why Tambelini is the GM of this team...but don’t think for one minute that Lowe does not have his hands in the cookie dough here. Signing RFA’s may have some negative connotations in today’s NHL, but when it is so hard to attract good free agent talent to Edmonton, signing RFA’s has to be an option for the team.
So how badly does Edmonton want that number one center to play with Hall and Eberle for the next five+ years? Just think about this scenario for a moment. June 24th, 2011. Edmonton wins the lottery pick ( which they will) and with their second straight ‘historic’ pick they draft Adam Larsson. Six days later, free agency hits, and Edmonton offers the world to Parise to come and be the center on the most dominant line in the NHL..... just think.... Hall, Eberle, and Parise. Within a matter of a week Edmonton would have their franchise defenseman and that highly coveted center that they need.
What would it take to sign Parise? We already know that he has some major issues with NJ, and that huge Kovalchuk contract will make it next to impossible to resign Parise. Well my best guess would be a minimum 5 yr deal at 7+ mill per yr.... sure it might seem high... and it might even take more than that to get him... but who cares? Edmonton has the cap space. The kids won’t need to be resigned for another couple of years, and by that time Khabibulin and Souray are all off the books. The cap will not be an issue in Edmonton.
Could this in fact be a reality, or am I just dreaming? To think that there is a possibility of next year staring at the Oilers roster and seeing Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, Omark, Hemsky, Gagner, Whitney, Larsson,.... and Parise? Edmonton would truly return to being the City of Champions, and me even thinks it may not take too long for that to become a reality either.
So, I guess we patiently wait for the draft.... and we will truly see what Tambelini’s plan is.