"Talk is cheap, shut up and dance/don't get deep, shut up and dance."
I feel like I'm stealing from LT, using lyrics that fit the Oilers situation here, but it just fit too well, dammit. Kevin Lowe has talked, and talked, and talked, since he dealt Pronger. But he hasn't done a whole lot besides talk, and it's time for him to just shut up, find a dance partner, and make some magic happen. If we have to wait any longer, we're going to have to hear about his new hair cut....
Since the lockout, Kevin Lowe has entered every season with an unbalanced roster. In 05-06 we saw the Conkabostonaccentnenn experiment. Following that, the Oilers rolled up the rim all of 06-07, with a D Corps that left everyone wanting a lot more, and last year we hit the ground running with more rookies than the Florida Marlins usually have.
There's a lot of 6's and 7's, and a lot of guys who sure look like they're on their way to becoming Q's and K's... but there's also very few actual Q's and K's. Thanks to a hot streak at the end of the season that clearly wasn't sustainable, the Oilers fan base is expecting a playoff birth.
Looking at the depth chart, an argument can be made that the Oilers have as many as 17 forwards and 8 D who should at the least be in the pressbox instead of in the AHL. They've paid their dues, and it's time for the Oilers to make a decision. Lets assume that Penner, Horcoff, Hemsky, Gagner, Moreau, Pisani and Nilsson are the forwards not moving anywhere for any reason, and that Souray, Pitkanen, Grebeshkov, Gilbert and Staios are the D that can safely own instead of rent. That leaves: Cogliano (Who is only dealt in a deal that brings back a young, star), Smid, Greene, Schremp, Pouliot, Stoll, Torres and Chorney as players of interest.
The Oilers needs are pretty obvious from my standpoint, either a LW to improve the top unit and allow Penner to give some toughness and take some time with two of the kids, or a legit D. First round picks certainly aren't a bad thing, but they're not going to come easily in another hyped draft, unless we're dealing two players to a very desperate team.
Basically, the Oilers can offer young depth to a rebuilding team. Smid and Greene would certainly garner interest, Cogliano is a deal breaker, and a lot of teams would still like guys like Torres and Stoll on their roster. Chorney is pretty close to being a blue chip guy himself, and Pouliot and Schremp at this point in their careers are more of a throw in to finish a deal. We know the Oilers won't won't make deals with any of Calgary, Vancouver, Colorado, Buffalo or Anaheim for varying reasons. I wouldn't rule out a deal with Minnesota.
So first, we'll look for teams that actually have that player who could or could not be the missing piece and whom the Oilers will deal with, and whom presumably could be available for the right package. We'll get into the package after. Basically, right now we're just identifying youngish LW's and youngish D's who have high upside, but aren't Alexander Ovechkin. They must at least be Sophomores, but ideally we're talking about a guy on his second contract.
Atlanta - Kovalchuk, Exelby
Carolina - Cole, Williams
Chicago - Havlat, Keith
Columbus - Zherdev, Tollefsen
Florida - Bouwmeester
LA - Frolov
Minnesota - Gaborik
Montreal - Higgins, Komisarek
Nashville - Hamhuis
New Jersey - Elias
Philly - Gagne
Phoenix - 1st in '09
Pittsburgh - 1st in '09
San Jose - Michalek
St. Louis - Kariya, McKee
Tampa - 1st in '09, Ranger
Toronto - 1st in '09, Steen
Washington - Semin, Green
Now, I'm not denying there are some big, big name tickets on the board there. The chances of actually landing a guy like Kovalchuk or Gaborik are minimal at best, but that's not the point of this exercise. What I'm looking for here simply, is to name every possible acquisition that wouldn't cost the moon and would improve the team in one way or another. The 1st's don't immediately improve the team by any stretch, but in this draft, and with those teams windows, I think all of them could and would be available in the right deal.
The next question here, of course, is what teams here would be interested in pulling a quality for quantity deal? What teams here are in desperate need of some filler for their roster? Which teams here need to either blow it up and hope for a quick reload through a lot of assets, are in cap trouble, or absolutely need to go into win now mode?
From that list of teams, I would say:
Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Florida, LA, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa and Toronto fit one of those descriptions and would at least consider a package.
What would a package of Torres, Smid and Greene look like to Tampa Bay? Does that get you Paul Ranger and their 1st? What about Cogliano, Smid, Schremp and Stoll for Kovalchuk? How much would Pittsburgh part with for Torres and Greene, attempting to replace Malone and Orpik? What about Toronto? What would they give up for a guy like Jarret Stoll, who could inject some much needed heart into that room?
Either way, I think we're looking at something like Lowe is right now. He knows who he'll move, and he knows what he wants, and he should hopefully know what the other teams needs are.... so where's the match here? What combination of the above players gets us what I've listed?