Happy Wednesday friends. The free agent recruitment period is officially open, and teams can begin to talk to players in hopes of getting a deal done with them. No free agents can officially sign until Friday, but I suspect a few will leak before then. Here are a few quick hits on what’s going on in Edmonton right now…
Coburn Still Alive: The fuel was added to the fire big time today in regards to a potential Brayden Coburn to Edmonton deal. The Fourth Period reported today that the teams came close this past weekend, but were unable to finish the deal. They also said a source of theirs close to the situation says the sides are still talking, and a deal this week is still very much possible.
The Flyers just signed forward Vinny Lecavalier to a deal that will pay him $4.5 M per season, which means the Flyers will need to clear out some cap space. Still believe that cap space will be in the form of Coburn.
The Oilers are hot in pursuit of the defender, and I’m still very much under the impression that he will odds are be an Oiler. The possible return? Not sure at this point, but I’m guessing it includes picks and a younger player.
Watch for this to really pick up towards the end of the week.
Grebeshkov Returning?: Rumor floating around that the Oilers will be bringing Russian puck-moving defender Denis Grebeshkov back for the 2013-14 season. Grebeshkov was a solid puck-moving defender for the Oilers before the team moved him during the 2009-10 season to Nashville.
He’s not a top four option in my mind, but bringing him in for third pairing duty along with Anton Belov might not be a bad idea. If the Oilers can shed Nick Schultz’s contract, this might not be a bad signing.
Ideally, the Oilers add a top four guy (Coburn) and a depth guy this summer, so Grebeshkov could prove to be that depth guy. A d-core featuring J. Schultz, Coburn, Petry, Smid, Belov, Potter and Grebeshkov wouldn’t be a bad unit at all, and would be a very mobile one.
I’d imagine it would be a short-term and low money deal too. If it’s for a depth role, I have no problem bringing Grebeshkov back to Edmonton.
Qualified RFA’s: The Oilers submitted their qualifying offers to their RFA’s today, and the team decided to cut bait with a few bigger name RFA’s to Oilers fans.
Forwards Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarvi were obviously qualified, as were forwards Teemu Hartikainen and Antti Tyrvainen along with defender Taylor Fedun and goalie Niko Hovinen.
Hartikainen, Tyrvainen and Hovinen will all be playing in Europe next season, but by qualifying them the Oilers retain their NHL rights for if/when they return. It was also a no-brainier that Gagner and MPS were qualified, and I expect both to be re-signed.
The Oilers chose to not qualify and release four players today as well. Minor league forward Phil Cornet and defenders Colten Teubert, Alex Plante and Theo Peckham will now became UFA’s after not getting qualifying offers.
Cornet isn’t a shock, as the Oilers want to have their NHL possible prospects play a bigger role for the Barons, room had to be made there. Teubert fell out of favor and couldn’t get into the Barons’ lineup. With CHL’ers ready to make the jump, space was needed and Teubert got caught in the numbers game.
Plante, a former first rounder for the Oilers back in 2007, never truly realized his potential. Whether it was injuries, or ability, Plante never seemed to be able to put it together. With the Oilers having a new management team, it’s no surprise they elected to cut bait with two disappointing prospects.
Theo Peckham was also cut loose after a tough 2013 season. He showed up out of shape in January can couldn’t get into the lineup after that. He struggled during the 2011-12 season too, so it’s no real shock to see him move along. Wish him the best in his next NHL stop.
UFA Targets: The exclusive UFA negotiation window is now open, and teams are allowed to talk to free agents and try to sign them. I expect the Oilers to be pretty active on this front.
Up front, I see Nathan Horton being the top target, with David Clarkson and Clarke MacArthur being the backup plans for the Oilers. I think three centers, Boyd Gordon, Max Lapierre and Mann Malhotra, will get interest from Edmonton and at least one signs with the team.
I could see the Oilers talking to a few bottoms six wingers too, and a guy that sticks out to me is former Hurricanes forward Chad Larose.
On defense, IF Paul Ranger decides to return the Oilers will be involved. The Grebeshkov rumor is out there as well, and Edmonton-native Andrew Ference has been connected to the team.
In net, Anton Khudobin makes all the sense in the world and I expect him to be the Oilers back-up by Friday afternoon. Jose Theodore is another option, as is Ray Emery.
I imagine the Oilers make at least three or four free agent signings this week/weekend along with a trade or two. It’ll be active.
Other Items of Business….: I expect we see Eric Belanger on waivers today for the purpose of a compliance buy-out. His time in Edmonton has run out, and the Oilers have failed to find a deal for him. Only makes sense to use the compliance here.
Wouldn’t be too surprised to see Shawn Horcoff on waivers too for the purpose of a buy-out, BUT I still lean towards him getting traded. Either way, it wouldn’t shock me. He’s done in Edmonton.
As for Hemsky, the Oilers are shopping him, but I suspect we are a few weeks away from finding out where he goes. Hemsky will be a backup plan for a team that loses out on Clarkson and Horton, and the Oilers will probably get more if they wait til mid-July to pull the trigger. A deal is coming, but it might take some time.
Expect the news to pick up soon. I’ll be back with more later. Follow me on twitter @Alex_Thomas14 and help spread the word about this blog by re-tweeting our links!