At a trade deadline that was cleaved by the Olympic roster freeze and dampened by big moves weeks ago, the Oilers still managed to get some work done in looking ahead to next season and beginning to forget about the current one.
As a fan, it’s always tough to lose a young asset for what seems to be little gain, but the trading of defenseman Denis Grebeshkov to Nashville for a second round draft pick this summer was the right thing to do by GM Steve Tambellini.
True, Grebeshkov was on pace to have his best goal-scoring season in the NHL, but as an unrestricted free agent this summer already making more than $3 million per season, Tambellini had to get what he could for him. And here’s an intriguing sidenote; Grebeshkov has already ducked back to play in Russia once in his NHL career (in 2006-07 before coming to Edmonton) – who’s to say the emerging defenseman won’t do it again this summer, now that the KHL is in full form and doling out big contracts?
Wherever Grebeshkov ends up next season, it’s no longer Edmonton’s concern. Instead, the Oilers land a second-rounder from Nashville, which, based on current standings, amounts to approximately the 50th pick overall this summer. What kind of player can fans expect at that ranking?
In a best-case scenario, the prospects are good (no pun intended). Milan Lucic, Oscar Moller, Wayne Simmonds, Mason Raymond and recent world juniors star were all selected in that range. The history of the Oilers in that slot is much less glorious, however.
Jeff Petry, a Michigan State defenseman taken 45th overall in 2006, is having a solid junior campaign with the Spartans. He has put up career-highs in goals (four), assists (22) and points (26) and was recently ranked 56th overall and third on Edmonton’s chart in The Hockey News’ annual Future Watch special issue.
Other than Petry, however, the Oilers haven’t cashed many players in that 50th overall range since defenders Matt Greene (44th overall in 2002) and Tom Poti (59th overall in 1996). They’re the only bright spots and neither are with the team anymore.
Acquiring the draft pick for Grebeshkov was great – making the pick work is Tambellini’s next task.
This article also appeared in the Edmonton Metro newspaper.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appears Monday and Wednesday, his column – The Straight Edge – every Friday, and his prospect feature, The Hot List appears Tuesdays.