The silver lining in this cold harsh April winter here in Edmonton is that either Hall or Seguin will be wearing the copper and blue mere months from now. These are two men who are expected to become franchise cornerstones for years, and one of them will, in all likelihood, be an Edmonton Oiler starting June 25 in Los Angeles.
"The Fall For Hall" and "Beggin' for Seguin" are what the Facebookers are dubbing it, forming mass groups spanning thousands of members.
In spite of this debacle of a season—which has plagued not only the team itself but also the fans, and robbed a city of its soul—there is a third option Steve Tambellini has here; an option many fans would never dare to dream of: Trade the pick.
What am I smoking, right?
As it stands, the current Oilers roster cannot, and will not, challenge for a playoff spot next season. The team lacks offensive firepower, has a porous defense decrepit of veteran stability, and the goaltending is shaky (and tipsy) at best—not to mention the disease Moreau still contaminating the dressing room.
Less than a year ago we were saying similar things about the Phoenix Coyotes, a team that is now making the San Jose Sharks look like the Toronto Maple Leafs, and at one point was challenging for the Western Conference crown.
The Coyotes did not need to go into a Pittsburgh Penguin style rebuild and pick in the top-five for a number of years; they traded well, and added solid veterans via free agency.
What Steve Tambellini has to do is emulate what Don Maloney has done to that organization, and that task starts with exploring all options with the pick, including trading it.
As much as Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin are hyped, they both are small, crafty forwards who rely on their speed and lack of size to generate success. This is precisely the type of forward the Oilers roster is currently filled with: Ales Hemsky, Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Robert Nilsson, and Patrick O'Sullivan, to name a few.
One thing the Oilers have lacked for years is a power forward who can score garbage goals, plays with an edge, is willing to get his nose dirty, and is solid defensively. In other words, Dustin Penner minus the Twinkies.
The perfect man for this position is Bobby Ryan, the second overall selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft (behind Sydney Crosby). Ryan brings an intimidating presence, an ability to score goals (on pace for 33 this year), solid defensive zone play (plus-five on a non-playoff team), and youth (just 23-years old).
He's also an RFA, which could bode well for Edmonton if they decide to go after him. Anaheim certainly would be in the market for the No. 1 overall pick.
Combine Ryan with Anaheim's first round pick, and put Andrew Cogliano (another RFA) along with Edmonton's pick, and there is potential for a deal that works out for both sides—provided there is some tweaking.
The management has to consider any and all trade routes regarding this pick.
What many fans loose sight of is that there is no guarantee Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin or any of the 211 young men drafted on June 25 and 26 will see a minute of NHL action.
There is no guarantee the Oilers will recieve a return on their investment if they invest their first round pick on anyone , but the odds of receiving a return on their investment if they invest in a young, established NHL player such as Ryan increase substantially.
The Oilers desperately need a return on their investment here, and that return must yield dividends for many years to come.
Anaheim represents just one of the 28 other possibilities Edmonton has if Steve Tambellini makes this pick available. Would Philadelphia's James van Riemsdyk be in play? What about Kyle Turris, the Phoenix Coyote prospect with whom many scouts liken to a young Joe Sakic? Could the Oilers pry Brayden Schenn from the LA Kings?
These are all questions that deserve answers, and the team owes it to their fans to explore each and every option. There is no definite answer as to whether Steve Tambellini and the Oilers braintrust should keep or auction this pick, but one thing they need to do is to keep their options open.
This rebuild does not have to be a prolonged process for the fans, and there can be playoff hockey in Edmonton next April, provided management makes the right moves.
Whether or not Hall or Seguin suit up for that playoff hockey remains to be known.
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