The Edmonton Oilers are off to a nice start this season but that doesn’t mean the team doesn’t have holes that need to be filled. Oilers GM, Steve Tambellini is thinking the exact same thing and according to TheFourthPeriod.com, the Oilers had scouts present during the Toronto Maple Leafs/Boston Bruins game on Saturday and then again on Sunday in Buffalo where the Sabres hosted the Florida Panthers.
While nothing is confirmed as to who or what are the Oilers are looking to fill, it’s believed their focus is on the blueline. A question mark going into the season, the Oilers back end has been satisfactory so far but one individual in particular has struggled; Ryan Whitney.
Considered to be one of their top four defenseman, Whitney has looked out of place for the Oilers at times this year. His stats don’t necessarily reflect it, 0 goals and 3 assists in 8 games and only a minus-5. But the giveaways that Whitney has coughed up this year have been difficult to stomach for any Oiler fan. It is worth noting that his plus/minus is tied for last on the Oilers. As a result, Whitney found himself watching the action from the press box on Monday as he was a healthy scratch.
The Leafs would be an ideal trade partner for the Oilers to help fill their need of a defenseman. Mike Komisarek is said to be available, as is Cody Franson. Carl Gunnarson could also be had for the right price, but none of the aforementioned three would be top-four material.
The Buffalo Sabres are also long on blue liners with names such as Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold and Tyler Myers serving as possible trade bait (Regehr is currently on the injured reserve list). Both Regehr and Leopold are past their prime and may be outside the Oilers ideal age range at 32, turning 33.
Perhaps the biggest name that is said to be available on the trade market is Keith Yandle of the Phoenix Coyotes. The all-star defenseman is just 26-years of age and would be considered a top-four d-man for the Oilers.
Over the last three seasons he’s played in every game and averaged 51 points over that course of time. Two seasons ago he had a career year when he scored 11 goals and 59 points. But with Yandle comes a hefty contract of $5.25 million each year for the next three year’s after this one. The Oilers could have room should they buy out captain Shawn Horcoff after this season and find a new home for Whitney, something that will be easier said than done.
The price tag for Yandle would be steep and would likely cost the Oilers a talented, highly sought after prospect or a current roster player such as Magnus Paajarvi. Even then, the Oil would have to throw in a draft pick, maybe a second rounder in 2013.
Depending on how the Oilers play over the next two months could determine how quickly Tambellini is forced to pull the trigger on a deal. If the young guns stumble, a deal will be imminent to avoid falling out of the playoff race. If they can stay above .500 through March then the trade deadline of April 3 could be a relevant time for Tambellini to tinker his roster to make that playoff push.
Tags: Buffalo Sabres Carl Gunnarson Cody Franson Edmonton Oilers Jordan Leopold Keith Yandle Magnus Paajarvi Mike Komisarek Phoenix Coyotes Robyn Regehr Ryan Whitney Shawn Horcoff Toronto Maple Leafs Tyler Myers