Why should Steve Tambellini trade away his two best players? Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky are young, have manageable contracts and currently sit third and first respectively in scoring for a team that is looking to get more competitive.
He should deal them because this year he will likely get far more of a return for them.
The National Hockey league's theme this year has been parity. Currently, five teams sit within seven points of a playoff spot. That means that the number of sellers is only five. In supply and demand terms, there is a big demand for stretch-run help and a low supply—which means a higher price.
Edmonton is clearly one of those five teams that has written off the playoffs and as a result can look to sell their assets. This is the year in which Edmonton will get the most for their two prized assets as this type of parity is unlikely to repeat itself come next year.
These assets are any player who theoretically could not be around for the post-rebuild, Stanley Cup contender era Tambellini hopes to build. Players such as Penner and Hemsky, whose contracts expire next year, along with the likes of Jim Vandermeer, Andrew Cogliano, Kurtis Foster and maybe even Sam Gagner. With Sheldon Sourray coming on re-entry waivers, he could soon find a different NHL team to get injured for as well.
The fact that Tomas Kaberle with an expiring contract and in theoretical terms, a rental player, received Joe Colborne, a former first round pick, a first round pick and a conditional second round pick, bodes very well for the Oilers.
At 33 years old and becoming an Unrestricted Free Agent in July, Kaberle is older than both Penner and Hemsky and has no guarantee of staying for next season. Hemsky and Penner are young enough to help out significantly for both the present and the future of any organization, and are just entering the years in which forwards are generally at the peak of their game.
Steve Tambellini will likely be more inclined to part with Hemsky, due to the fact that the organization already has plenty of smaller forwards in Jordan Eberle, Linus Omark and Taylor Hall. To land Hemsky a team would likely have to offer a first round pick, a top prospect and either a mid round draft pick or a mid-grade prospect. There are reports that the Oilers and Los Angeles Kings are talking about a deal for Hemsky based around Brayden Schenn and LA's first round draft pick in 2011.
In Penner's case, Tambellini will have to to receive an overpayment in order to make any deal. Power forwards are a rare breed in the NHL, and one who's scored 30 goals as Penner did last year (where less than 1.5 percent of all NHL players hit the 30-goal mark) are an even rarer breed. Penner's asking price would be significantly higher than Hemsky's also due to the fact that many around the league consider Hemsky to be injury prone.
Thesw two players values' will only increase as the days pass by and more names are dealt and Steve Tambellini is doing the right thing by waiting.