NHL Draft 2011: 3 Teams That Should Trade Up for Oilers First Pick
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It was an utter embarrassment for Red Wings' fans, losing to the eighth-seed Edmonton Oilers. Those Oilers would go on to up-end the San Jose Sharks, and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks before eventually falling to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games in the Stanley Cup finals.
Since then, the Edmonton's "oil well" (pardon the pun) has gone virtually dry. The Oilers went on to finish 12th, ninth, 11th in the Western Conference over the next three years, and the past two seasons were even worse. After finishing last in the NHL for two consecutive seasons, the Oilers are in desperate need of some rebuilding.
Last year, the big debate the Oilers faced with the first pick was the "Taylor vs. Tyler" debate (shown here).
The Oilers ultimately chose Taylor Hall last year with the first overall pick in the 2010 NHL entry draft and Boston graciously selected Tyler Seguin.
The rest as they say, is history.
Seguin now has a Stanley Cup ring, helping bring the Cup back to Bean-town for the first time since 1972.
Hall, and the Oilers, are left wondering how to best rebuild this offseason so as to move forward and not finish at the bottom of the heap once more.
No. 1 New Jersey Devils
Zach Parise could be the biggest trade bait on this RFA market.
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The Devils missed the playoffs in 2011 for the first time since 1996, and only the second time overall since they missed the playoffs in 1989.
A large amount of the blame was to be placed on the mis-management of the salary cap by GM Lou Lamoriello.
Lamoriello got off on the wrong foot last year during free agency. TSN reported the mammoth sized deal that Kovalchuk and the Devils agreed on, but the Associated Press later broke the news that the NHL found Kovalchuk and New Jersey "tried to circumvent the NHL Salary cap", ultimately nullifying the deal.
Lamoriello ended up signing Kovalchuk, but later found the team in a "cap crunch" that forced him to pull some strings to avoid starting the season with only 11 forwards.
This year, Lamoriello could ease his burden greatly by trading for the first overall pick in this years draft by offering his restricted free-agent Zach Parise as compensation.
Zach Parise (per CapGeek.com) made $5 million this past year after sitting out most of the season, playing just 13 games this season, accounting for just six points.
That may not seem like much...until looking closer at the previous two seasons where he missed only one regular season game racking up an astonishing 176 points in those 163 games.
It may seem like a steep price to pay for a first overall pick, but the Devils need some cap space if they are to avoid another cap crunch and move forward as a team next year.
Edmonton desperately needs a proven scorer. Parise has six years of NHL experience under his belt and could be a perfect fit in Edmonton.
Signing him to a long-term deal would be a perfect idea to get Edmonton General Manager Steve Tambellini's career back on track. Anywhere between $6.5-7 million year range would be appropriate.
No. 2 Philadelphia Flyers
Claude Giroux is one Flyer who could possibly find himself in a different uniform next year, could a trade with Edmonton be in his future?
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The Philadelphia Flyers are in trouble with the salary cap. Everyone knows it.
Enter teams with cap space.
Peter Laviolette's trigger finger when it comes to switching goalies would put him in prime position to star in a Western movie.
Paul Holmgren's Ilya Bryzgalov: recent acquisition of free-agent Ilya Bryzgalov (is there a trend with players named Ilya causing cap problems?) was meant to that rotating door that has been the Philadelphia goaltending situation.
Unfortunately, Bryzgalov's salary (per CapGeek.com) of $4.25 million annually poses a significant problem if the Flyers wish to stay under the cap for the upcoming 2011-12 season.
The salary cap jam has been the bulk of much amusement, and some made a game among fans by guessing who will be in the lineup for this upcoming season opener
Holmgren will be forced to unload a goalie and most likely a forward in order to set the cap situation straight in Philadelphia
Enter the Edmonton Oilers.
The Oilers have (per CapGeek.com) ~$22 million in cap space.
With Nikolai Khabibulin's mounting injuries limiting him to just 46 starts, appalling numbers (a record of 10-32-3, a 3.39 GAA and a 89.1 save percentage last season) and his climing age (38 years old) it may be time to say good bye to the "Bulin Wall."
The Flyers are desperate to get rid of one (or maybe more) of their four NHL level goalies.
They would also be desperate to get rid of some cap space via one of their forwards without a no-trade clause.
Such candidates would include: Claude Giroux ($3.75 million a year per CapGeek.com) locked up through 2013-14; Kris Versteeg ($3,083,333 a year per CapGeek.com), but a free agent after this 2011-12 season; or possibly rights to Ville Leino a pending free agent, but with a lofty enough dollar figure and a substantial raise (as he currently makes a mere $825,000) could find himself in an Edmonton uniform next year.
Any number of situations could develop here, with the Flyers acquiring the first overall pick for possibly a goaltender and a forward listed above, it would be an interesting situation to say the least if Holmgren and Tambellini came to the table such as any of the above.
No. 3 (and Most Unlikely) Vancouver Canucks
Christian Ehrhoff could command a lot more on the open market that Vancouver is willing to offer him. Trading him to Edmonton would be an interesting development.
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The Vancouver Canucks are division rivals are a highly unlikely trading partner for the Edmonton Oilers.
However, the Canucks do have several unrestricted free agents that Vancouver GM Mike Gillis would like to re-sign at some point before free agency starts July 1st.
Some of the key free agents that Gillis is looking to re-sign include key defensemen: Sami Salo, Kevin Bieksa and Christian Ehrhoff.
Salo's cap hit was $3.5 million (per CapGeek.com); Bieksa's cap hit was $3.75 million (per CapGeek.com) and Ehrhoff's cap hit was $3.1 million (also per CapGeek.com).
While Ehrhoff could probably command more on the open market, but NHL.com reports that he would like to be back with the Canucks next year.
If GM Mike Gillis cannot find a way to sign all three of these defensemen, a possible option would be to trade Vancouver's first-round pick to Edmonton along with one of the three in exchange for Edmonton's first overall pick.
This could potentially work out in Edmonton's favor, but it would ultimately depend on how much they could get out of Vancouver for the first overall pick. Edmonton could possibly get more in the way of draft picks or players because all three defensemen are impending free agents.
Not many teams would be willing or able to offer adequate compensation for the first overall pick in this 2011 Draft, but according to TSN.ca, Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini is willing to listen to all offers.
The Run Down
Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini seen here. This season could make or break Tambellini's tenure with the Oilers.
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In today's NHL, teams are not just willing to flaunt players for cash and draft picks.
Teams must carefully choose and select players based on team needs and how the player can and would fit in with the team.
Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini has his hands full deciding whether to keep or trade this first overall pick. Unfortunately for Tambellini, finishing dead last in the league has likely shortened his leash quite considerably.
His decision to send Sheldon Souray to the minors to ride the pine in the minors instead of playing him or trading him most likely does not sit well with Oilers fans either.
Tambellini, speaking about sending down or trading Souray, was quoted in the Edmonton Journal as having a "couple of discussions, but nothing that made sense for our club" does not make any sense when the Oilers best defenseman is not playing for them, or being traded for future considerations.
In short, it will be interesting to see if the Oilers keep or trade the first pick in this 2011 NHL draft. A lot could be riding on the decision to keep or trade the pick, including the Oilers' success (or lack there of) next season, as well as the jobs of front office/on ice staff like Tambellini.