Monday, February 13, 2012

Hemsky, Smyth and Possible Returns

The NHL Trade Deadline is exactly two weeks away. You'll be able to follow the day's events live as they happen in Edmonton on the TEAM 1260 as every on air guy at the station, including The Pipeline Show, will be a part of the festivities on February 27th.

The Edmonton Oilers are expected to be active and according to TPS weekly guest Daren Millard from Sportsnet, two forwards in particular are expected to move and both might be gone before the 27th.

We spoke with Daren on Saturday morning and in talking about Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth, the NHL Insider offered up possible destinations which opens the door to speculation on possible returns.

"Ales Hemsky for sure; He's going somewhere," Millard said, "He's a player that will be on the move and may not get to the deadline."
The Hockey Central host offered up Detroit as a potential suitor although he said the Wings are also looking at Teemu Selanne and Shane Doan as well.

Millard mentioned Sam Gagner as well but feels that the Oilers will end up hanging onto the 22-year-old rather than try to capitalize on his current hot streak.

Then the Sportsnet mainstay dropped a bit of a bomb when it came to an Oilers fan favorite.

"Don't forget Ryan Smyth," he began, "I think it's a foregone conclusion that he's going to the New York Rangers. I've heard reports that even he thinks he's probably going to be on the move before the deadline and then he'll resign in the summer."
Would Oilers fans react the way many of them did when Kevin Lowe dealt Smyth to the New York Islanders a handful of years ago? Personally, I felt and said at the time that trading Smyth then was the right decision and getting a trio of 15th overall picks in exchange for 18 regular season and 5 playoff games was a good deal. In hindsight you can argue that prospects Ryan O'Marra and Robert Nilsson were poor choices but at the time, they still held promise. There were also critics who slammed the scouting staff for their selection of Alex Plante and felt a skilled forward like Angelo Esposito would have been the better choice... Plante's 10 NHL games and two points are nothing to write home about but they are still 10 more games and two more points than Esposito has managed as he's bounced around from organization to organization.

So looking specifically at Detroit and New York, what possible trade targets would be of interest to Edmonton? Most people would suggest that a defenceman should be the priority and that the Oilers don't need draft picks or prospects who are a couple years away. Getting someone who could be next season's version of Jake Gardiner or Justin Faulk would be a reasonable goal.

The Rangers and Red Wings are the top two teams in the NHL so I would assume that both would resist moving significant roster players the likes of Brandon Dubinsky or Darren Helm.

The obvious player to consider from Detroit is Brendan Smith who would be in the NHL today if he were with most other organizations. The 2007 1st round pick (27th overall) was a star with noted defenceman factory Wisconsin during his 3-year collegiate career and his offensive numbers have translated to the AHL this year. But would the Red Wings really give him up to get Hemsky? With the way Detroit can attract free agents, they certainly could but that's a lot different than saying that they would.

I know that the Oilers liked Sault Ste. Marie defender Ryan Sproul last year but the 2011 2nd round draft pick won't contribute right away so probably would't be Edmonton's first choice.

The New York Rangers could make for a much more interesting trade partner because they have more young players in the system that I think are guys Edmonton like. I don't think you could pry Chris Kreider away from them but New York's 1st round pick in 2009 is as fast as they come, has offensive upside and is a character player too. He's got three years of NCAA play behind him now so could be ready for the next step and I don't expect that to be a season in the AHL. Again, I don't think anyone could get him but it's definitely worth asking.

Like Sproul, I know that Edmonton scouts were very high on Dylan McIlrath during the 2010 NHL Draft year but his stock will have dropped some since then due to injury. Still, at 6'5 and 215 lbs, the Moose Jaw blueliner has the physical acumen Edmonton has looked for and found in guys like Andy Sutton and Theo Peckham. McIlrath was taken 10th overall in 2010.

They just acquired him last summer but would New York deal Tim Erixon? The Swedish defenceman has played just 13 NHL games this year but has 25 points in 32 AHL games in Connecticut. Would adding another Swede to the mix be a positive for Magnus Paajarvi, Anton Lander, Linus Omark and eventually Oscar Klefbom?

Center J.T. Miller was just drafted this past June but after an impressive camp last fall and a strong year in Plymouth, the big forward could be NHL ready sooner as opposed to later. Edmonton scouts were very high on Miller last season and there is no reason to think that would have changed in the last 8 months. Despite being one of the younger players on the U.S. team, Miller was one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing 2012 WJC in Alberta. Miller was selected 15th overall by the Rangers in 2011.

If it ended up being a pick and prospect, would it be out of the realm of possibility that the Oilers would look at Oil Kings forward Michael St. Croix? Edmonton holds the NHL rights to three other Oil Kings rights now in Travis Ewanyk, Kristians Pelss and Martin Gernat and St. Croix is having a very memorable year in the WHL. Still, he's a below average sized forward which may put the Oilers off.

Options, options and more options. But what would make Oilers fans happy?

1 comment:

Rob said...

"What would make oilers fans happy?"

- Hemsky signed to a 2 year deal
- a dozen beer
- Smyth to go to a contender for a first pick as a rental