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The Team Today: Swaps & Picks

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers


NHL Trade Deadline Day started slowly for the Oilers, but mid-morning the club got their feet wet.

At 10:30am MST, GM Steve Tambellini announced that the Oil had claimed winger Ryan Jones off waivers from Nashville. The 25-year-old Ontario native has 11 points in 41 games with the Preds this season and, at 6'1" and 202lbs, adds some size and grit to the front end.
The following few hours passed slowly for Oilers fans, but after the 1pm deadline, Tambellini tackled his blue line.

At 1:30pm, the Oilers announced they had struck a deal with the Ducks: in exchange for Olympian Lubomir Visnovsky, Edmonton received another Olympic defenceman, Ryan Whitney, as well as a sixth round choice in this year's NHL Entry Draft.
45 minutes later, the club shocked Albertans by making a trade with their rivals in Calgary. The Oilers acquired defenceman Aaron Johnson and a third-round pick in exchange for Steve Staios.


"I felt good that we were able to accomplish some of the things we set out to do," Oilers GM Steve Tambellini said from Chicago, where the team prepared to meet the Blackhawks.

"We knew we needed to make some change, we did that. At the same time we've added the potential of 10 draft picks for this entry draft, we've reduced our cap space significantly in some key positions, and we've acquired some talent that's bigger with Ryan Whitney coming in, and Ryan Jones, we've accomplished that too. It's a good first step."

Steve Staios
Before leaving Chicago for their new hometowns, Staios and Visnovsky had only good things to say about their former club and their new teammates.

"It's mixed emotions to say the least," Staios said. "I can't say enough about my time in Edmonton -- great organization. And in this business you don't get to be in one place very long in normal circumstances, but I've been in Edmonton for nine years.

"The Oilers have been just great for me, and I want to thank them for that," he continued. "But at the same time, I'm a hockey player first and foremost and to be able to compete in big games down the stretch with the Flames and the opportunity to play in the playoffs is really the only thing that you look forward to as a player. So I'm very thankful for that opportunity as well."

Visnovsky said he was surprised by the trade but added that going back to California is the "best choice" for his family.

"It's a great offense team, lots of good players, good veteran players and I think they're three points out of the playoffs so it's best for me to play and try to help the team and find the playoffs."

But Visnovsky made sure to express his appreciation to the Oilers and the city. "I love Edmonton and have great memories and thank you very much for everything. I thank the organization, I thank my teammates."

Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Bob Stauffer


Game day in Nashville started with a new experience for Denis Grebeshkov: less than 24 hours after flying into Tennessee as an Oiler, the defenceman donned the Predators jersey and took to the ice for morning skate.

After Preds practice, Grebeshkov said that he's excited to call Music City home.

"I'm looking forward to it and I hope I'm going to help Nashville."

When asked if he's anxious about facing his former teammates so quickly, the soft-spoken defenceman was unsure.

"I don't know. We'll see. But I guess it's going to be weird for me," he admitted. "I'll be professional. It's part of the business. At some point I'm going to play against them so might as well just start right away."

Oilers up next

After Nashville's skate, Edmonton took to the ice at Sommet Center. Head Coach Pat Quinn ran the same lines as during Monday's practice, with
Dustin Penner, Sam Gagner and Robert Nilsson on the top line, and Shawn Horcoff centering Ethan Moreau and Mike Comrie. Tonight's game is the first since February 14th for both clubs, and the Oilers are hoping the Olympic Break pays off in a win.

"We've only had two players participate in the Olympic Games so we have a relatively healthy, fresh group back so we have to make sure we capitalize on that," Associate Coach Tom Renney said. "In order to do that we have to push the pace and make sure that our change game is good, whereby we get pucks deep, we get off the ice hard, we go on the ice hard and really try to push the pace in Nashville if we can."

"I think that when you have a break like that, you really have to try to focus early and simplify things," forward
Mike Comrie added. "For us to be successful and win tonight it's going to take all of us being on the same page and not trying to do too much."

D-Day Approaching

The Oilers will also be trying not to think too much about Wednesday's trade deadline.

"There's some guys that are nervous about what their future has in store and that's on every team in the league, so everyone has to deal with it," Quinn said. "I think our jobs are the same thing: try to have your guys ready to play and ready to succeed and that's the way that we've approached today."

Andrew Cogliano's name has been mentioned in a few trade rumours over the past few days and he said he's "getting used to it a bit.

"It seems like I'm in a lot of rumours, but unless you hear from Steve (Tambellini) or the organization you don't believe in any of those. It's a situation where it's a business so you kind of go along with it."


Matt Marquardt
A few hours after practice, the business aspect was brought back into the forefront when GM Steve Tambellini announced another trade.

Almost exactly 24 hours after the Oilers completed the Grebeshkov trade, the club moved another defenceman, prospect Cody Wild, to Boston in exchange for forward Matt Marquardt. Marquardt, 24, has appeared in 24 games with Bruins' AHL affiliate this season, tallying one goal and nine assists.


Mike Comrie started the Oilers off right with the opening goal Tuesday night, but former teammate Denis Grebeshkov helped his new team bounce back by earning a primary assist and then go-ahead goal before the period was out. From that point, the Oilers and Preds traded goals throughout the game but the visitors were unable to jump ahead and suffered a 4-3 loss in Nashville.

Gilbert Brule and Marc Pouliot added a goal and assist each for Edmonton, while goalie Jeff Deslauriers finished with 24 saves.
Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Bob Stauffer


The Oilers started what is perhaps the busiest week of the NHL season with their busiest day of recent memory.

With players and staff midway through a four-hour flight from Edmonton to Nashville, the organization made its first announcement of the day: calling up defencemen Taylor Chorney and Theo Peckham as well as goaltender Devan Dubnyk from the Springfield Falcons. The club also reassigned goalie Bryan Pitton to Springfield.

"Anytime you get called up you're pretty excited," Peckham said from Nashville. "It almost goes back to the first time -- you start getting those butterflies and the flight over is pretty nerve-wracking. But I feel good to be here, confident, and hopefully I'll bring my best."


As the defensive reinforcements met the team in Nashville, the Oilers announced that one of their other blue liners would be calling Music City home.

Shortly before the Oilers took to the ice for practice at Sommet Center, Edmonton announced that  they had acquired a second-round choice in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft from Nashville in exchange for defenceman Denis Grebeshkov.

"We're wishing Denis well," Head Coach Pat Quinn said after practice. "He was fun to work with, he was open-minded, and certainly a coachable guy. It didn't probably go as well with us as we'd all hoped, but none of us have been that good. So this is a great opportunity for him."

The announcement was a surprise in the locker room.

"I think that probably caught everybody by surprise," Chorney said. "I walked into the rink here this afternoon and I saw that he was just walking down the hall to Nashville's locker room, and that's kind of a different situation.

"I guess that's one of those instances that you realize that this is a business, that's the way things work around here, and maybe it is an opportunity for a guy like myself to step in and play in some more critical situations."

Fellow defenceman Tom Gilbert added that he'll miss Grebeshov on the ice and in the locker room.

"I played with him for a year, had a great experience with him. Obviously we were really comfortable with each other on the ice and it's tough to lose someone like that that you've played with for a long time," he said.


Taylor Chorney, Lubomir Visnovsky & Patrick O'Sullivan watch a drill from the bench at Sommet Center.
With Grebeshkov out, Chorney and Peckham were incorporated into the defensive combinations at practice. Chorney skated with Lubomir Visnovsky, while Peckham was paired up with veteran Steve Staios. Jason Strudwick and Tom Gilbert formed the third pairing.

Edmonton's forward lines were as follows:

Dustin Penner - Sam Gagner - Robert Nilsson
Ethan Moreau - Shawn Horcoff - Mike Comrie
Patrick O'Sullivan - Ryan Potulny - Fernando Pisani
Andrew Cogliano - Gilbert Brule - Marc Pouliot / Zack Stortini


Forward Jean-Francois Jacques and defenceman Ladislav Smid did not join the Oilers on the road trip, both due to spine injuries. Quinn announced that Jacques will require surgery and will be out for the remainder of the season. Smid's prognosis is still up in the air.

"There is a disc that's kind of cracked off and hanging out and he's losing his strength and grip and has been for a while," Quinn explained. "They've determined that it's a real old sort of injury from when he was a young man but has been exacerbated and was certainly exacerbated by the hit vs. Vancouver.

"He's been experiencing loss of feeling sometimes, and finally during our testing the other day our medical people just said hey, wait a minute -- we're not going to go any further until we find out exactly what's going on. They're trying to find out whether this is on the spine or is it on the nerve endings and then they'll make a decision as to how they'll treat it from there."

When asked if Smid could be done for the season, Quinn said it's a possibility.


Grebeshkov's departure and Smid's injury dampened the mood on the blue line today, but Lubomir Visnovsky's return was a positive. With Team Slovakia, Visnovsky came within one game of earning a bronze medal in Vancouver.

"It was a big experience for me because our country played great during the tournament," he recalled. "We are not very happy because we lost the last game. It was very important for us and especially for our team. We have eight over 30's so it's maybe the last tournament for all of us together, and we believed in the medal."

Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Bob Stauffer & Steve Taylor
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