While Craig MacTavish revealed his hand a few times on some players at today's press conference, the indication is that the GM is thinking in the same line as the fans and prognosticators in that there are at the very least a half dozen new Oilers coming for next season. Even at six it is probably too few. But, let’s look at the likely outbound Oilers.
1) Ryan Whitney. MacT said as much. So did Whitney. The big US college graduate fell to injuries and never returned to form after the Visnovsky deal. It’s a deal looking poorer by the minute. Stoll and Greene for Visnovsky ----> Whitney ----> UFA. The Oilers could sorely use Stoll and Greene.
2) Theo Peckham. He lost respect and his job showing up fat and out of shape. Hardly ever played and will not return.
3) Eric Belanger. I would buy Belanger out if I can't deal him away this offseason. He is a player that is part of the issues up front. A bottom six player that doesn't lead, doesn't play physical, never committed or player 100%, soft and passive and cannot darken the doorstep here next season.
4) Ryan Jones. Another bottom six forward that failed on a physical level and like Belanger and offensive level. He's well liked but he plays too nice and passive a game to remain.
5) Ben Eager. Concussions likely change Big Ben's ability to play his game. No one can blame him. Unfortunately, they need his game and will need to find it in another player. Like Belanger he is a candidate for a buy out in the offseason as well.
6) Ryan Smyth. I stated that like Horcoff, Smyth disappeared in late November of last season. He is still missing in action. He is not a top 6 player, but not a bottom six player. He lacks the aggressiveness required in the 3rd and 4th line. He simply cannot play NHL hockey at his age, skill set, and speed.
7) Ales Hemsky. Rumours are that Hemsky could have been moved by Tambo in a couple of deals. He never pulled the trigger. Hemsky's individual style, lack of physical presence, and poor defensive zone play should mean an exit from Edmonton finally this summer. The Oilers need power forwards to fill some places in the top 6 and Hemsky's position should be the first place to start the turnover. Like many I await Hemsky's much ballyhooed arrival as a NHL star.
8) Gagner. But, Sam Gagner despite his offensive numbers which tailed off badly again in the second half of this season, is too small to play 2nd line center on this team. Gagner is Gagner. Not Derek Roy. Not Martin St. Louis. Not Theo Fleury. Not Mike Comrie. Gagner is still dogged by poor defensive zone coverage and bad turnovers. He bleeds chances against. Gagner like it or not is not a very fast skater and his passing ability is average at best, and his shot is a muffin. There is more legend and perception than reality in Sam Gagner.
9) Nik Khabibulin. His body is breaking down. He's getting older. He's likely done as a player.
Smithson? Fistric? Petrell? These players are fringe players. 13-14 forwards and a 7th defenseman the retention or loss is neither a big loss nor a huge move to keep them. However, I would retain them if possible. Fistric is a local kid, Smithson is a western boy, and Petrell has versatility in fill any of the 3 forward positions. They are known commodities and should be used where they are capable.
Not mentioned but possible trade bait could include Paajarvi, Lander, and Hartikainen. Frankly, Hartikainen is the one I would be most eager to move. He's a big passive body, not a great skater, and not overly skilled. The Oilers need to cut bait.
It is a lot of potential change, but there are a lot of hole and gaps these players occupy and do not fill.
FFT Is Horcoff really a player that the Oilers need? There's not much offense from the Oilers Captain and he plays an awfully passive game.
The Oilers may face more turnover in the AHL with Plante and Teubert falling behind the other Oilers defensive prospects
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