Oilers Looking For Top Scorer Still?

By , August 3, 2009 9:50 am
Who gets the next shot?

Who gets the next shot?

The Fourth Period reports that the Oilers are still in search of the elusive “top-scoring winger”. Some possibilities the article suggests are: Alex Tanguay, Vaclav Prospal, a Flyers forward (Daniel Briere, Simon Gagne, Scott Hartnell) and Brad Richards.

So on that note, who would make a good fit for the Oilers?

RW – Phil Kessel – Boston Bruins (RFA) – Age 21 – Shoots Right


Scouting report from Sportsnet.ca:

Assets: Owns electric skating ability and a howitzer of a shot. Can line up at all three forward positions. Is an exceptional dangler.

Flaws: Needs to work on his play without the puck. May not have enough face-off or defensive ability to line up at center in the NHL. Lacks ideal size.

Potential: First line forward.

08/09 Stats: 70GP, 36G, 24A, 60PTS, +23, 16PIM

My Take: The Fourth Period has rumored Kessel as being shopped by the Bruins as contract negotiations aren’t going as planned. He’s said to be asking for $5M/year. That is pretty steep for such an inexperienced player, however, Kessel could potentially be one of the best American-born players for years to come. Comparisons have been drawn between him and Mike Modano. He’s not the big body this team needs, but he certainly has the goal-scoring potential, having scored 36 last year. The Boston Globe reports that Kessel could miss part of the 09/10 season though, as he is recovering from shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and labrum. He may not return to action until November or December.

RW – Nikolai Zherdev – New York Rangers (1-year @ $3.9M cap hit) – Age 24 – Shoots Right


Scouting Report from Sportsnet.ca:

Assets: Skates with explosive strides and is one of the best one-on-one players in hockey. Can do anything he wants with the puck and oozes offense.

Flaws: Needs a lot of work in defensive-zone coverage. Takes too many shifts off. Must become more dedicated to the NHL game.

Potential: First line winger.

08/09 Stats: 82GP, 23G, 35A, 58PTS, +6, 39PIM

My Take: The New York Newsday lists Edmonton as a possible destination for Zherdev via trade. He’s a right winger, but is a right handed shot, which might mean he could play the other side, with Hemsky. He’s got great playmaking skills, and is not afraid to shoot the puck. At 6’2, he would be one of our bigger top-six players. However, while his size would be considered large on the Oilers, he isn’t much of a physical player. His heart and work ethic have also been questioned.

LW/C – Vaclav Prospal – Tampa Bay Lighting (UFA) – Age 34 – Shoots Left


Scouting Report from Sportsnet.ca:

Assets: Sees the ice well and gets the puck to an open man effectively. Plays intense hockey and doesn’t back down from challenges. Can play left wing or center.

Flaws: Has lacked consistency over the years. At times, his instigating qualities can be detrimental to his team. He’s also a below-average skater.

Potential: Top six forward.

08/09 Stats: 82GP, 19G, 26A, 45PTS, -20, 52PIM

My Take: The Tampa Bay Lightning recently bought out Prospal. It stands to reason that the team he signs with will get a bargain, with Prospal already prospering (bad pun intended) from the buy-out money he received from Tampa Bay ($3.5M times 3-years). I would think that at most, he should cost a team $2M/year. Hemsky’s countryman might be worth the Oilers taking a risk on. He could fit in well on Pat Quinn’s team, as he is known to favor his veteran players. However, it’s hard to see this signing as a good thing long term if it means making room for him by pushing one of the young kids out of the top six. If he’s still around come training camp, he might be a good player to send an invite out to.

LW – Simon Gagne – Philadelphia Flyers (2-years @ $5.25M cap hit) – Age 29 – Shoots Left


Scouting Report from Sportsnet.ca:

Assets: Is an exceptional skater. Sees the ice well and loves to use his imagination. Has solid defensive instincts and versatility.

Flaws: Could use a few more pounds in order to do a better job in the corners. Concussion issues are a concern going forward.

Potential: Top six winger.

08/09 Stats: 79GP, 34G, 40A, 74PTS, +21, 42PIM

My Take: Rumors have been circulating in the off-season of Gagne’s availability. The Flyers are close to the salary cap. I don’t feel that the Flyers need to give up someone such as Gagne to keep below the cap  (not to mention, he does have a no-trade clause), however we will humor this idea since: a) it’s been rumored by several sources since the end of the season, and b) it’s fun. Simon Gagne would make a great fit on the team’s top line. Twice in his career Gagne has broken the 40-goal mark. The star winger missed much of the 2007/08 season due to concussion issues, and this may be a concern for any team looking to acquire him. His drop off in goals in 2008/09 may be a result of concussion issues. However, with 34 goals last year, he would be no slouch in an Oilers uniform.

LW – Scott Hartnell – Philadelphia Flyers (4-years @ $4.2M cap hit) – Age 27 – Shoots Left


Scouting Report from Sportsnet.ca:

Assets: Has improving offensive instincts and upside. Plays with tremendous poise and defensive makeup. Is versatile enough to play any forward position. Loves to crash and bang.

Flaws: Must stay healthy in order to enjoy a lengthy career. Has already experienced concussion problems, which could be a factor down the road.

Potential: Power forward.

08/09 Stats: 82GP, 30G, 30A, 60PTS, +14, 143PIM

My Take: Hartnell is the big body this team needs. He’s a guy that really likes to make use of that size, as well. He also does have some goal scoring ability, having scored 30 goals last year. I don’t see him as a top line player on this team though, but he could make a great 2nd or 3rd liner (if our 3rd liner shows more of an offensive-bias). Like Gagne, he has a no-trade clause that he would need to waive in order to be traded here. His contract might be a bit on the high side for a guy who has only broken 30 goals once.

Notable Mentions

Alex Tanguay – he is an available option, however I don’t consider him a very viable option for a couple of reasons: he is more biased towards playmaker than shooter and he is not very strong on the puck.

Daniel Briere – much like Tanguay, I don’t consider him a viable option for the Oilers due to his size. He’s a very small player and as such has some injury issues. His contract also isn’t going to do him any favors with the concern that he  won’t put in a full season each year. He also has a no-trade clause.


As much as I hate to say it, and while the Fourth Period does say the Oilers are interested in landing a scoring winger, I see Tambellini standing pat the rest of this off-season, aside from re-signing the few unsigned players on this team. I would also like to see Dustin Penner get another shot at #1 LW. He has proven chemistry with both Horcoff and Hemsky, and the three of these guys do seem to suffer offensively without each other. Penner has the size this team needs (even if he doesn’t always use it) and is a big body presence on the powerplay.

In a recent phone conference, Tambellini also indicated that the Oilers wouldn’t be very active from this point forward. It’s proven difficult to move our over-priced assets in the cap world, and in order to sign any free agents, Tambellini is going to have to free up some cap space. Really, it’s likely that what we see now is what we’re going to see when the season starts.

Having said that, I would love to see the Oilers make a move for Kessel or Gagne (assuming he’d waive his NTC to come here) if the trade possibility is there. While neither are big players physically, they’d still be great additions to the team for their goal scoring abilities. Gagne would likely come at a higher cost though given his proven track record. He would be worth sacrificing one of our skilled forwards for, however.

It might not be a bad idea to consider some of these names for the 2nd line (such as Prospal, if he comes cheap). Kessel would also look great with Gagner and O’Sullivan or Cogliano.

Again though, don’t be surprised if the team doesn’t make any radical changes during the off-season.

15 Responses to “Oilers Looking For Top Scorer Still?”

  1. Bostonoiler says:

    I think it will be Zherdev, he seems to be getting attention from the Oilers. We will see.

  2. Hockey Noob says:

    Hey Racki, I liked your idea of picking up Zherdev for 2RW as you posted on the Oilers forum. I think that the Cogliano/Gagner/Zherdev line would be a good combination of speed and talent to add secondary scoring to the 2nd line. Zherdev has a reputation of taking some nights off, but his boxcars are certainly an upgrade over Nilsson. This line combination could tear up the soft minutes if played against the right opposition. Mostly people seem to consider Zherdev for 1LW, but I am not as enthusiastic about this option.

  3. Racki says:

    I think it would be fantastic to have two very dangerous lines. Really, Zherdev brings a lot of what Hemsky brings.

    The third line of Moreau Horcoff Pisani would be a much more responsible line, but could chip in say 50-60 goals as each of these guys is capable of 15-20. Plus it’s a solid defensive line.

    I would really like to see that, and the rumor mills have been running rampant saying that the Oilers are after Zherdev too, so that really fuels my excitement over the idea even more!

  4. Bostonoiler says:

    What about adding 2 scorers? Getting Kessel and Zherdev???


    I think we are getting Kessel. Boston Globe reports Bruins are close to dealing him to western Canadian team.

    Racki, Love the idea of 2 dangerous lines, thats something needed in today’s NHL.

  5. Hockey Noob says:

    Hey Bostonoiler,

    I haven’t run any numbers, but I am not quite sure how Kessel and Zherdev would work in terms of salary cap. Both might be too much to hope for, but either or could be a nice addition.

    As far as your proposed roster, I would flip Pisani and Moreau around in terms of lines.

  6. Racki says:

    Yah I haven’t crunched the numbers either, but I’m with Noob on this one. It would be great to have both, however it would likely mean losing one of our higher salary d-men (Souray, Visnovsky or Gilbert), as it’s tough enough as it is to fit Zherdev in on his own.

    I think either or would be great, but not both. I’d think Kessel would be the better choice even though he’s smaller. But he’s going to be a little harder to finagle (yes I just used that word) out, given his great year last year and that he’s on the upswing.

  7. Racki says:

    Just to add a bit of fuel to the Zherdev idea… the NY Post just posted an article today saying they’re pretty sure Glen Sather is going to cut Nikolai Zherdev loose.

    So Zherdev will be a UFA. You know the settling price will be around $3.9M. Do we do it? I’m sort of on the fence with this one. I look at our line up with Zherdev in it, and it sounds really good. But we also have to free up a fair bit of cash to do it. I think it will mean waiving a player or two. Nilsson would be the most logical choice, to start. We’d then need to free up close to 2M more somehow.

    The article also suggests he could bolt for the KHL though.. which doesn’t sound unlikely given the questions surrounding his desire to be here. At any rate, I think the Oil should give it serious consideration. I don’t think Tambellini will do it though, as he doesn’t strike me as a guy that takes risks (the risks being, can he sign the guy and still get under the cap, and will Zherdev live up to the salary).

    Article is located here

  8. Racki says:

    Well, some possibly unfortunate news is that the Oilers aren’t interested in Zherdev, according to Jim “Buzz Killington” Matheson of the Edmonton Journal.

    Sounds like Tom Renney (his former coach) isn’t really interested in having him on his new team. That’s a pretty big strike, if you ask me.

  9. DropIt says:

    Sexy new site you got here Racki. Only you could set up an Oilers blog that would draw my attention.

    As per topic: I see Zherdev as a very probable pick up for the Oilers, I probably wouldn’t put him at the top of the list (Kessel), but I think that he will probably be the most attainable without the dilemma of giving up possibly a young, potential franchise player such as Cogglianno.

    The Oilers need to make a move before the season starts, and for a fan it must be nice to see Tambellini swinging for the fences with names like Zherdev, Kessel, and of course Heatley.

  10. Racki says:

    Hey DropIt, good to see you here, and thanks for the compliment on the site 😉

    Sounds like the Oilers aren’t on board with Zherdev though. I’m not sure if it was just speculation, but the Edmonton Journal had an article stating that they weren’t interested in him, and suggest that Renney might be the reason for that (saying that he’s not pushing for Tambellini to acquire Zherdev).

    But you’re right.. Kessel would be the #1 attainable guy right now. I’d hate for the Oilers to lose a key player. But I have liked Phil Kessel since seeing him for the first time in the Team USA uniform. I’d definitely love that idea. It doesn’t help us with our size issues, but he presents a good goal-scoring solution, however.

  11. DropIt says:

    Hmm, really? Well I guess we wait for a reason as to “why not Zherdev?”

    I hate-to-love-to say it, but the Oilers sure seem to be the offseason punching bag this year.

    Your right though, all signs seem to point to Kessel now. Unless Tambellini is working something out that hasn’t been leaked to the media, which seems highly unlikely.
    But hey, Kessel>Zherdev right? This could maybe be the Oilers’ second “blessing in disguise” this summer. Let’s just see if they could make something work. Kessel is a stud on the ice and would improve any team, it would just be pretty interesting to see who gets put on the next plane to Boston out of Edmonton. They are in Ideal trade positions with each other right now. Oilers with seemingly a lot of cheap, young, upcoming talent… While the Bruins are in cap trouble but aren’t going to let Kessel go easy.

    Unless of course Tambellini just decides to sign Zherdev regardless, I mean he is the GM and really does not have to listen to an “associate” coach who hasn’t been to as much as a team practise yet.

  12. Racki says:

    Yah really I’m treating the Renney stuff as rumor right now. But if it’s true, then Tambellini would be wise to heed the warning. You don’t want to shove players down your coaches throat, or you end up like what we had last year… players being publicly humiliated by the coach 😉

    But for sure Kessel seems to be > Zherdev. Even just in his second full year, he’s already put up good numbers (and at age 21, to boot). I just fear the type of player that we’d have to give up to acquire him. I have big hopes for Cogliano… not Kessel-sized hopes, but still would hate to lose him. O’Sullivan is one of few shooters on this team. Fat-chance (pardon my pun) they would take Penner. It might be wise to move one of the d-men though (Gilbert always comes to mind), along with a lesser prospect. I don’t know if that would be enough, however, nor if Boston is interested in another D-man.

  13. DropIt says:

    Yeah, Kessel may command a lot coming back to Boston, and for the cap situation, you know it has to be cheap. Which, in my mind at least always puts up names that Oiler fans probably don’t want to hear come up. Gagner, Coggliano, Gilbert, O’Sullivan… Even big prospects (Eberle, MPS) could be mentioned. This may actually be a rare instance where it may be a sigh of relief for Oil fans to see Coggliano as the only casualty leaving town on that list.

  14. Racki says:

    Yah you’re right, DropIt. That’s my big worry – the Bruins want to move Kessel for cap space reasons, so they’re not going to do anything to absorb more back. So you got it.. that means cheap but talented players like Cogliano, Gagner, MPS, Eberle, etc. O’Sullivan might be a bit too high a price tag for them, same with Gilbert (although either player would still save them a bit on cap, from what Kessel is rumored to be looking for). I don’t see the Oilers biting on this one if they have to give up Cogliano, sadly. Between Kessel and Cogliano, it would be hard to argue that Cogliano is a better player.. but he does fit in our system, and we’ve seen here how hard it can be for players to fit in here despite having successful years elsewhere.

    Gagne is a different animal though. For him, I think the Oilers could part with Cogliano or one of the other big name prospects. His concussion issues are always going to be a worry though. But I would still take the chance.

  15. DropIt says:

    Ya, Gagne is definately a different story. Solid goal scorer, real soft hands, Hemsky’s dream linemate.

    Still the mystery would remain… Who leaves town? Gagne I would imagine may even take more that Kessel and the Oil would have to shake things up this next month to arrange for something like that. Well worth the price however if it could be done. I doubt Coggliano is the biggest name leaving if Gange is the case, but for anyone short of Hemsky, the gambe will likely pay off.

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