Oilers Biggest Deadline Deal Is The One They Didn’t Make

Ales Hemsky Oilers
Ales Hemsky (Jerome Davis/Icon SMI)

Hemsky Remains an Oiler

The biggest deadline move that Steve Tambellini made this year was not on Trade Deadline Day nor was it even a trade.  It happened a few days prior when he re-signed forward Ales Hemsky to a 2 year, 10 million dollar extension.

Widely rumoured to be on his way out of town, Tambellini surprised the hockey world with both the signing as well as the amount paid out.  While not a huge shock, as the NHL trend leading up to the deadline was a number of re-signings and players being pulled off the market, it was a bit of a surprise with the amount of young Oiler talent needing new deals in the coming years and given the fact Hemsky was seeking a long term deal.  Hemsky now has two years to prove he is an integral part of the future, or Tambellini will find himself in the same position, looking to find suitors for the talented Czech winger in 2014.

The fact is, when looking at the Oilers system as well as potential free agents, there just wasn’t anyone on the horizon who was a suitable candidate to replace Hemsky in the Oilers top six group going forward.  Couple that with the fact that Tambellini clearly wasn’t blown away with any offers, the smart move appeared to be to resign him and keep him in the fold, for at least the immediate future.  Hemsky is a top end talent in the league in terms of his skill set, Oilers fan are just hoping that his production will start to resemble it.

The interesting time will be in two years when Hemsky’s new contract is up, it will be then that both Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle will be due substantial raises, coming out of their entry level contracts and year before Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be looking for the same.  Hemsky has shown that he wants to be part of the solution in Edmonton and on the roster when the young Oilers hopefully reach their vaunted potential.  It’s hard to see it working financially, but it will be up to Tambellini to make the numbers work if that is the case.

2014 could prove to be an interesting year.

Oilers Swap Offence for Defence

In the one deal that Steve Tambellini did make on Trade Deadline Day there was a swap of top four defencemen.  Going home is Minnesota native Tom Gilbert who was dealt to the Wild for Nick Schultz.  Both players are very similar in terms of age and contract status, both are currently 29 years old and both have two years remaining on their current deals (Gilbert at 4M per and Schultz at 3.5M), but are very different in terms of what they bring to the table.

Gilbert is a puck moving, offensive minded defenceman, who is an average defender in his own end, and currently has 17 points in 47 games and is a -4 on the year.  Schultz, in stark contrast, provides little offence, but is very solid defensively and will provide a steady, stay at home presence for the young Oilers.  He comes to the team with 3 points in 62 games and a -10 rating.  He is also an iron man on the blueline, missing only 17 games in his 7 seasons as an NHLer.

Gilbert was the Oilers ice time leader on the year, and while there was a definite need to improve defensively, Tom Gilbert became expendable for one reason; and that is the emergence of Jeff Petry.  Gilbert and Petry play a similar style of game, and with Petry being younger and earning less, Gilbert became a tradeable asset.  Petry has already seen his ice time jump dramatically since the all-star break and has lead the team in ice time on many nights over the past month.  Schultz will be a nice fit and defensive conscience on the left side of the defence and will also provide leadership for the young squad in the dressing room.  He was a “heart and soul” type player for the Wild and was their longest tenured player before the deal.

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