Some people are upset, some people are suggesting Craig MacTavish is a miracle worker. Either way, MacTavish did one of the things he'd said he was going to do in moving Shawn Horcoff out of Edmonton and onto other pastures and he did so without keeping any form of buyout or retaining any of Horcoff's salary.

So now what?

Edmonton has zero healthy centres ready to play. Nugent-Hopkins is still rehabbing a shoulder surgery, Sam Gagner is not yet signed to an extension and Eric Belanger is being bought-out. That leaves only Anton Lander, a very unproven NHL player on the Oilers depth chart down the middle. Mac-T must have another move. He can't be that blind that there isn't an Ace up his sleeve?

Mikhail Grabovski

This guy has some elite skill and he makes those he plays with better. Grabovski just finished venting his frustration at Leafs coach Randy Carlisle for mis-using his skill-set and Grabovski is free to test the market without much fear of a huge salary, since he's one year into a five-year contract for which he was just bought out by Toronto. At $3.5 million for 3 years, he's a great fit.

Stephen Weiss

This guys got game, but he's going to have a list of teams including the Leafs interested and I think he's simply not got quite enough to offer for what he'll bring. Weiss has overpayment written all over his next contract and the Oilers just rid themselves of one of those contracts in Horcoff.

Manny Malholtra

No one is talking about Manny except Manny who believes he can still be a useful player despite his injury history. Vancouver is refusing to let him play, but another team might take a chance and he could be a steal on the 3rd or 4th line if he can stay healthy.

Maxime Talbot / Sean Couturier / Brayden Schenn

The shoe's about the drop in Flyer-land. Holmgren, despite his lack of cap space keeps making moves. It's like he can't help himself. It's going to force his hand and while Braydon Coburn is the public piece that the Oilers have been talking with the Flyers about, there is a very good chance we could see a bigger scale trade, the variety of Boston/Dallas, that sends a defenseman and a centre to the Oilers in exchange for draft picks, prospects or cap relief. The Oilers could answer a number of questions in one trade if the Flyers are willing to dance.

What about Magnus Paajarvi, Nick Schultz, prospect David Musil and the Oilers first round pick in 2014 for Couturier, Coburn and a 3rd rounder? Seems like an underpayment by Edmonton, but it sheds the Flyers of almost $3 million in cap space. We hear the Flyers are after Ray Emery and Emery will command at least $2 million allotted to wherever he lands.

Boyd Gordon

Can play 4th line centre, potentiall moving up to third line centre when needed. 57% faceoff man. Sound two-way game.



The Edmonton Oilers have taken big defenseman Darnell Nurse at the #7 spot.

So far, the reactions are mixed by Oiler fans. Many love this pick and many feel that Edmonton mistakenly passed up on Valeri Nichuskin - a big, heavy potential top-six forward.

To me, it was always down to two choices for Edmonton. Monahan (who Calgary selected at #6) or Nurse. Both of these players were considered high character guys and natural leaders that a team can lean on or rely on to compete each and every night for his team. They fight to the bitter end and Edmonton is well aware that this is a culture they need to embrace. I believe the Oilers felt that Nichuskin was a gamble to provide that.

With Nichuskin, there were questions or his commitment to the NHL (possibly unwarranted). It's likely that while the forward had more upside, Edmonton wanted the safer pick they knew could be a great locker room guy who also has upside when he grows into his frame.

Nurse brings 6.04 inches and 185 lbs that is only going to get bigger and bigger as he fills into his body. He was ranked as high as 6th and low as low as 9th by the major scouts, so not only is he a safe selection, but if you listen to him, he embodies what would and can handle the fish bowl that is playing in Edmonton.

He likes to hit, which Oiler fans will love. He likes to impose his will and style of game onto his opponents and he does more than just play tough. He can skate well for a big guy and will make that good first pass.

Nurse won't play right away, but that he could be a player that sees some time with the Oilers in the 2014/2015 season.

There are reports coming out of TSN that when the Canucks decided to see what the market would be for Cory Schneider, they got some hits. One was from the Edmonton Oilers who are rumoured to be willing to pay the asking price -- a high first round pick and a prospect.

This is way too much if I'm Craig MacTavish and I already have a pretty good goalie in Devan Dubnyk available to me. I don't believe anything more than a 2nd rounder and a roster player would be fair unless I've already got a trade in the works for Dubnyk to a team like the Flyers for Braydon Coburn.

A goalie tandem of Dubnyk and Schneider sounds great on paper, but it creates more of what Vancouver is dealing with now (on a smaller scale) and Edmonton has way too many other areas of need to be wasting the 7th overall pick when all Edmonton really needs is a solid back-up option in net.

Money better spent would be trying to move a 2nd round pick and prospect for Coburn out of Philly and going all in for Letang out of Pittsburgh. Give up your 7th overall, prospect and a roster player for Letang and you have the cap room for his $7.5 per season ask.

Letang/Smid, Petry/Coburn, J. Schultz/Belov, Potter and you have one of the most dynamic blue in the NHL. Two legit power-play threats, lots of stay-at-home toughness and shot blocking and room for injury should something happen.

The best part is, you can keep your young guys all in tact, with the only risk that your cap doesn't go up to the point that you can't afford to keep everyone. Around $22 million for your defense in 2014/2015, but the Oilers have Letang at one year on a bargain price.

Maybe this isn't realistic, but you can't do any of it should you trade your 7th for Schneider.
This time of year and with the lock-out ending, this is a buyers market in the NHL. Teams are looking to unload cap space, make room to maneuver should opportunities present themselves and with compliance buy-outs, opportunities will present themselves.

And, the same teams who are taking advantage of these buy-outs will likely make the same mistakes again.

Lecavalier doesn't go to Vancouver, the Flyers or Detroit unless they make room. Briere can't land in many of the some 15 teams who have expressed interest unless they move pieces first. Letang doesn't move to Toronto unless a bigger name blue-liner probably leaves first.

This isn't to name teams that might not be looking to make a splash, but just need to clear space like Chicago who wants to sign Bickel, or Minnesota who might move Clutterbuck to free themselves of the Parise and Suter cap dilemma they created last summer. Boston has to find a way to fit Horton, Rask and Bergeron.

Polished and experienced players will become available and many for song. Fortunately for Oiler fans, it's these depth players who may have some cap that Edmonton can and sort of wants to take on.

Mac-T has already stated his willingness to move his second-round picks. Look for these picks to land a few names that make very much depth sense for the Oilers. 
So if the rumors are true, and potential trades like Dion Phaneuf for Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky for Zack Smith were to happen, how quickly would the Oilers look very different than they do today?

If, and that's a big if; these rumors are true, this could be the fastest roster turnover in Oilers history.

With the trade rumors out there, the news that Edmonton has given Shawn Horcoff and his agent permission to speak to other teams about interest in Horcoff's services, and a press conference coming on Tuesday, it could be less than one week and the Oilers will be very different team.

The top six blue could be Smid/Petry, Phaneuf/J. Schultz and N.Schultz/Belov/Potter. That's a lot of different and in my opinion miles better than it was last year. Phaneuf for all his detractors has a lot of game left in him, he's got that nastiness Edmonton lacks and it spreads out the top six quite evenly. Add to that former Toronto Marlie and Eakins friend for life Paul Ranger to that defensive group, which I think the Oilers will, and I'm quite comfortable with the Oilers depth on the blue. Actually very comfortable.

Moving Ales Hemsky gives Edmonton Nuge/Hall/Eberle, Paajarvi/Yakupov/??, Zach Smith/R. Smyth/R. Jones, A. Lander/Mike Brown/??

That seems to leave a lot of question marks. I think there would be more as Lander should start in OKC and Ryan Jones may not be retained.. I fully believe Belanger is gone, as is Smithson and Petrell. The obvious hole exists at 2nd line center, where if Gagner is moved I would keep Horcoff. I'm not sure the Oilers agree.

The Oilers likely feel and they may be correct that Edmonton should be able to wait for compliance buy-outs. There are bound to be centers available from Danny Briere to Brad Richards, to Vincent Lecavalier or to down the depth chart with Adam Hall. All have been rumored to be moving on and that's what's going to make the next two weeks so exciting.

Depth players like R.J. Umberger and Ryan Malone could be picked up for a song and free agents like Viktor Stalberg, Clarke MacArthur and Eric Nystrom could be left when the big tickets go as they always do.

Edmonton should have enough options with the cap room they possess to fill that part of their roster moving guys up and down the lineup. Could or should the Oilers draft a player at the #7 spot like Sean Monahan or Alexander Barkov, both might be players in a deep draft that could get some time on the roster immediately. If they trade the pick, the value is likely enough that Edmonton could pick up an immediate second line center right there.

When the dust settles and the smoke clears come 48 hours after the completion of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Oilers could very much be the 2013 version of the every day Phoenix Coyotes. Wait for left-overs and build a very competitive team with the scraps. The only difference being there could be some very worthwhile scraps.

Edmonton has the elite talent to play top six. The missing pieces should be available in trade or buyout and it could all come together in a matter of 48-72 hours. 
In a quick presser that gathered Edmonton media as fast as it appears the decision was made, Ralph Krueger is out and Dallas Eakins? in.

There has been no official announcement as to who the Oilers will name next as bench-boss, but insiders all seem to be in agreement that Eakins is the "new man" and we do know that MacTavish and Krueger saw differently in philosophy related to hockey and the direction of the team. It appears as if, during the interview process for an associate coach, MacTavish found a match that made more sense than continuing on the same path.

To me, this looks as though MacTavish believed, if he's changing so many faces and there will be a lot of new learning and a bit of chaos to start this coming season, this would be the best time to pull a trigger. He made a quick move, was firm in his reasoning and fans will be left to wonder, is one coach with no real NHL experience better than another who had only 40 + games?

The match MacTavish believes he's found in Easkins will hopefully be the Oilers coach for the next three to four years.

I believe this to be a good move and the right time, but I'm also hoping this isn't the next Guy Boucher situation.

The Canucks fired their coach and a lot of people felt that then bench-boss Alain Vingneault was simply a scapegoat while the "sky-is-falling" attitude in Vancouver was and is solely the blame on GM Mike Gillis. Most of that is irrelevant now as Gillis isn't going anywhere and will look to find a new face to lead what will be a changing Canucks line-up into next season.

The Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider fiasco will need to be addressed and if I'm Vancouver I'm looking to move Schneider. But I'm not and Gillis has already come out on record that Luongo will likely be dealt (likely around the draft) and while I'm not sure Luongo is the smart choice, MacTavish did suggest there are questions surrounding Devan Dubnyk, so who knows.

Goal tending aside, the Canucks are going to need to get below the cap. While moving Loungo would get them almost if not completely there, Gillis has made it sound as though more changes will be coming. Can the Oilers, despite there not being a big trading history between Vancouver and Edmonton, find a fit?

There isn't really as large a need for Vancouver to get under the cap as some other teams we've already discussed, unless they choose to keep players like Derek Roy (who was a large let-down since coming aboard), Mason Raymond and Maxim Lapierre. If the Canucks try to keep those players aboard, then the Canuck blue line might be due for a shake-up.

Keith Ballard is the obvious choice, but like Edmonton fans who suggest it's easier said than done to off-load under-performing contracts, Ballard is an albatross that Vancouver will have trouble getting rid of.

Alex Edler has a hefty cap hit that kicks in this coming season and with Bieksa, Hamhuis and Garrison on no-trade clauses perhaps Gillis looks to move him. If that's the case, MacTavish should be all over that, but otherwise I don't see a fit.

Kesler would be a great pickup, if he somehow becomes available a boat load of teams will be interested, so really, the only fit from Vancouver I see will have little to do with making any kind of deal with the Canucks. It will be in picking up a UFA like Lapierre as a depth move.

Vancouver has cap issues, but I don't see Edmonton coming into play in any way.

We last spoke about the Washington Capitals and whether an opportunity existed for the Oilers to go after names like Karl Alzner, Troy Brouwer or Mike Green. With the decisions McPhee will need to make in Washington, I believe there to be just that -- opportunity.

However, Washington isn't the only team potentially ripe for the pickens'. One team, the Philadelphia Flyers, have created an opportunity for every NHL team under the cap line. Currently $8 million over what next years cap will be, simply by not signing their UFA and RFA contracts and losing players like Simon Gagne, Ruslan Fedotenko, Jody Shelley, Adam Hall, and Mike Knuble, which is probably the first names they'll sacrifice, it still only brings the Flyers down $7.6 million or so and keeps the Flyers above a cap they'll need to get below.

Like no other team I can think of, the Flyers are being leveled with albatross and no-trade contracts that will hamper their ability to ice anything more than the team that missed the playoffs this season. Paul Holmgren, the Flyers GM, will need to shake things up -- and he's proven he's not afraid to.

Trading players like Jeff Carter and Mike Richards when literally no one expected it, shows us that the Flyers are a team to watch this and really every summer. If you're an opposing GM with cap space, the Flyers better be on your speed dial.

Craig MacTavish needs to let Holmgren know the door is always open to talking. That the Oilers have some young talented prospects and that Edmonton would be happy to "help" the Flyers -- an eastern team, relieve themselves of some cap trouble.

A few names should be at the top of the list.While Wayne Simmonds would be the prize to snag from the Flyers and exactly what Edmonton needs, I don't see under any circumstances Philadelphia moving Simmonds or for that matter Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier; so Scott Hartnell becomes the conversation starter. He's big, he has hands and he wouldn't cost a prize to get. A mid draft pick and prospect or smaller contract NHL player might get it done.

Yes, I understand that Hartnell has a no-trade clause in his contract and that he likely doesn't want to leave the Flyers. I also understand that the Flyers were dreadful this past season compared to seasons past and Hartnell being older and on what will likely be his last ever contract in the NHL, he might see a benefit in spending his last five seasons with a team on the upswing instead perhaps on the down. The Flyers are undoubtedly a better team than Edmonton currently is, but they are getting much older much faster. Hartnell may see the writing on the wall as one of the Flyers older players.

The Oilers might have to tread carefully here as Hartnell had an off year in 2012/2013 and he's got a longer term contract. As MacTavish stated, you don't want to obtain people on the tail end of their usefulness.

If Edmonton believes Hartnell has something still in the tank; but, Hartnell refuses, one asset a lot of teams will be looking at is Jakub Voracek. Drafted in the same year and just after Oilers center Sam Gagner, Voracek had a breakout season. As a major piece in the Jeff Carter trade that sent Carter to Columbus, Voracek has finally turned into what both the Jackets thought he'd be when they drafted him and what the Flyers only hoped he'd be when they moved Carter out.

The Flyers won't want to move Voracek, but if they can't get players like Briere or Hartnell to waive their no-trade and no-movement clauses, Holmgren just may not have a choice. It will take a healthy return of draft picks and prospects, but Edmonton has the assets to move and if there was ever a time, this is it and MacTavish is the guy.

Finally, a quick move and one I might kick the most tires over if I'm MacTavish, is obtaining a player like Maxime Talbot. It won't get a lot of press, but it's exactly what Edmonton needs.

A much upgraded fourth line center option, Talbot would be a steal for the Oilers and would likely cost little in return. Talbot has the ability to move up to the third line, playing center and wing and if Edmonton does move Shawn Horcoff, Talbot might make for a more fired up, less expensive option. If they keep Horcoff, Talbot's not terribly cheap for a fourth line player at $1.75 million per season, but not so expensive that he can't challenge the other players in that position to keep their spots. If injury hits, Talbot can fill right in.

While not really a career over 50/50 face off guy, Talbot isn't going to lose so many that you have to worry ( he was 48% in the dot this past season), he's a veteran player whose had to work his way into the NHL as an 8th round draft pick, offers plenty of grit and has playoff experience on winning teams like the Penguins and Flyers. That could speak volumes for a team used to losing a lot and why MacTavish has considered his options with Shawn Horcoff.

Talbot takes the body, he's just that little bit of dirty you like in a teammate, blocks shots and he also happened to lead the Flyers in penalty killing time on ice. Talbot is a great bottom six fit Edmonton has specifically set their sights out to acquire.

If you're Edmonton and you are worried about Talbot's face off ability, you can always call on and make a UFA pitch for Adam Hall whom the Flyers will likely have to let walk and is a great face off specialist.

That would give you Nugent-Hopkins, Gagner, Talbot and Hall as your middle-men. A good mix of skill, face off ability and grit. My only other thought might be moving Gagner to wing if he can't improve his face offs and looking for a second line center via trade. 

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