|Ryan Jones is one of several items on OIlers GM Steve Tambellini's off-season "To Do" List. (photo by Andy Devlin / EOHC)
With the off-season now upon us, there's more than enough (thankfully!) to keep us busy here in Oil Country between now and October. So, without further adieu, I present to you the off-season "To Do" list for Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, as I see it.ITEM 1 - The Pick(s)
For the 2nd straight year, the Oilers have retained the #1 overall selection in the NHL Entry Draft. Held June 24-25 in Minnesota, the draft will ideally yield multiple high grade prospects for the franchise. Aside from the top pick, the Oilers will also likely have a selection in the 15-19 range (via Los Angeles) and will own the opening pick of the 2nd round, as well. That's 3 picks in the top 31 of the draft, which is a pretty comfortable place to be given that consensus is that the Top 40 is usually a pretty lucrative place to be. I fully expect the Oilers to come out of the first round with a defenseman and a centerman, having made every effort to nab both of those pieces in the top 10, via a trade involving the Los Angeles pick and something else from the cupboard.ITEM 2 - Veteran Help
Steve Tambellini reiterated on Wednesday that this franchise is not in the market for a $10M free agent at this juncture, but I'm more interested in the $3-$5M free agents anyways. In Oklahoma City this year, the Oilers bolstered their farm team with some veteran talent to surround a pretty good crop of young players. The result was a playoff spot after finishing last place the year before. If the Oilers intend to make a serious run at the playoffs next year, the addition of veterans at a couple key positions could make the difference. For the record, head coach Tom Renney agreed with this sentiment when I posed it to him this week. Could they make the playoffs without veteran additions? Of course. Anything is possible, especially with the emerging talent here. Would it be likely? I don't think so. Not without a couple of signings, that is. I'm talking about guys like Brooks Laich, Scottie Upshall, Christian Ehrhoff or Ian White. Maybe even a Vern Fiddler or Zenon Konopka.ITEM 3 - Ryan Jones
With multiple proposals already exchanged and talks ongoing, the work on this one is well underway. The Oilers want Jones and Jones wants the Oilers, so I've got no reason to think it won't get done. A 2 year deal seems reasonable, clocking in at a total of just less than $3M. He's an energy guy who can play up in the lineup, if necessary, and kill penalties. I'm not sure you want to pencil him in for 18 goals again, but anything can happen when you get to the greasy areas as he does. Ideally, I see him on the 4th line with spot duty higher up if necessary.ITEM 4 - Ales Hemsky
Steve Tambellini told me this week that they'll wait until Ales Hemsky
's arm is out of a sling before they start talking contract. Hemsky has warmed to the situation here over the course of the last year, remarking to the Oilers in a recent conversation that this is as positive an environment as he's ever seen here. When healthy, Hemsky's good for nearly a point per game and certainly adds another weapon to an increasingly lethal forward corps. Problem is, his health is a question and it's a gamble to tie a bunch of money up in a player with injury history, especially when you'll need that cap space to sign a slew of young players in 2 years. Add to that the fact that they added 3 top 6 forwards to the mix this year (Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi), maybe even a fourth (Omark) and will probably add another one in the upcoming draft, and you have to answer the question of where Hemsky fits, too. In any case, the decision needs to be made this spring. Hammer out an extension, or start looking for a trade.ITEM 5 - Sheldon Souray
The disgruntled defenseman won't be an Oiler by the time free agency rolls around on July 1. They'll make a last ditch effort to move him at the draft and, if not, will capitalize on the buyout window at the end of June to rid themselves of his contract. It's not ideal, but they've got the cap space to do it over the next 2 years and it's worth it to wash their hands of the situation.ITEM 6 - Everything Else
- Depth goaltending. Odds are that both Jeff Deslauriers and Martin Gerber are out, leaving the Oilers with the need for a veteran backstopper to aid young Olivier Roy next year in Oklahoma City.
- RFA deals with Andrew Cogliano, Ladislav Smid and Theo Peckham.
- Decide on the futures of Steve MacIntyre, Jim Vandermeer, Liam Reddox and JF Jacques.
- Find a position for Jason Strudwick, on the ice or off.