2011 has been an unprecedented year for trades preceding the deadline day of February 28th, setting a post lock-out record with 24 transactions since February 1st. A few of the deals have been quote un-quote blockbusters, in particular the deal between the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues which saw former first overall pick Erik Johnson move teams in exchange for budding stars Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk. With a shallow UFA pool expected come this July 1st, NHL GM’s are going the trade route to try and improve their teams for the future. The astonishing factor has been the number of young players changing teams, something not often seen in the salary cap era, where teams aim to draft well and develop players from within. Another significant trade involving young players was between the Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins, seeing James Neal and Matt Niskanen moving to Pittsburgh for defenseman Alex Goligoski. Its been the most active trade period the NHL has seen in a long time, begging the question, what might be left for the actual trade deadline day? There could be some movement in Edmonton however. Is this the calm before the storm?
The Oilers have yet to join in on all the trading action, and GM Steve Tambellini remains tight lipped as to what his plans are. The Oilers won’t be making the playoffs this season, and are headed towards another high draft pick. Therefore, they will probably be taking the role of sellers rather than buyers. Fortunately for the Oilers, there are many desperate teams looking to stock up for a lengthy playoff run, and there are a few assets in Edmonton that numerous teams have their eye on. Dustin Penner’s name has been thrown around in various trade talk, and with 21 goals this season, the 28 year old Stanley Cup champion will garner a lot of interest from around the league. Penner is set to become in unrestricted free agent in 2012, and with a cap hit of 4.2 million, he could be a good pick-up for playoff contenders who want some size and skill up front, but don’t want to sell the farm on a rental player.
Ales Hemsky is the other name that has been talked about in trade rumors, as the 27 year old who leads the Oilers with 41 points is also signed through next season, with a cap hit of 4.1 million. His immense skill might be very enticing to teams looking for a piece to put them over the edge, and he might be able to fetch the Oilers a good return. Captain Shawn Horcoff is also rumored to be available, but with a cap hit of over $5 million for the next four years, he might be difficult to move. Defenseman Ladislav Smid was another player expected to be moved, but any deals involving the 25 year old pending RFA have yet to materialize.
Trade deadline day is always an exciting time for fans as they hope to see their teams get better, some for the present time, and some for the long run. In the case of the Oilers, there’s no telling what Tambellini has up his sleeve and what might happen involving the team come the 3pm Eastern deadline. But one thing is for certain; Taylor Hall isn’t going anywhere.