Could the Anaheim Ducks make a pitch for Sam Gagner this summer? Should they shop Nail Yakupov? Will they try to sign David Clarkson? Which free agent goalies should they target?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson wonders if the Anaheim Ducks might make a pitch for Oilers RFA center Sam Gagner, who has yet to enter into serious contract negotiations. Gagner doesn’t want to leave the Oilers but it’s believe he’ll seek between $4.5 – $5 million per season, “the going rate” for second line centers. He noted the Ducks have two quality goalies in Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth, and also wondered if they might be willing to shop defenseman Cam Fowler for a second line center, “or would that be a reach?”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, Jim, that would be a reach. The Ducks aren’t shopping Cam Fowler. They might have interest in Gagner but they won’t resolve one problem by creating another. If the Oilers shop Gagner, I suspect they’d want depth on the wings or the blueline, so I don’t think they’d be interested in Hiller or Fasth, preferring an established backup for Devan Dubnyk, rather than someone who would challenge him for the starter’s role.
Matheson also responded to reader e-mails speculating over potential moves this summer by the Oilers. He believes if the Florida Panthers win the first overall pick in this year’s draft lottery they would listen to a pitch for it from the Oilers if they offered up Nail Yakupov, but if the Oilers were to include their first rounder, it would have to be higher than 6th overall. Matheson doubts the Oilers will be able to woo David Clarkson if he hits the free agent market this summer. In fact, he believes the New Jersey Devils will re-sign Clarkson. Bruins pending UFA forward Nathan Horton is an option, but Matheson noted he hasn’t been the same since suffering a concussion in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. He also dismissed any possibility of the Oilers making a pitch for Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: New Oilers GM Craig MacTavish is expected to make a bold move or two this summer, which could involve trading rookie Nail Yakupov, but if he does, I don’t believe he’ll pursue the first overall pick in this year’s draft. The Oilers have enough youth, they need experienced skill, size and leadership. Horton could be a free agent option for the Oilers, but only if he agrees to a two-year deal for less than the $4 million per season he made on his current contract. Forget about Malkin going anywhere, the Penguins will re-sign him.
Jonathan Willis recently examined the free agent options to back up Devan Dubnyk, suggesting Jose Theodore, Evgeni Nabokov and Jason Labarbera could be decent choices, while Anton Khudobin could be an attractive option.
John MacKinnon warns the Oilers must be careful that any bold moves this summer doesn’t hurt the team’s core, suggesting moving a young player before he matures could prove costly in the future. He’s against moving Yakupov and considers trading Jordan Eberle a risky move. “ A less brash, still bold move might involve packaging, say, defenceman Ladislav Smid with still-developing winger Magnus Paajarvi for a big chunk of sandpaper up front”, writes MacKinnon. He also notes the Oilers are deep in defense prospects.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Oilers will seek an affordable, experienced backup for Dubnyk. Moving Yakupov could come back to haunt the Oilers if they fail to get a solid return. I’m not convinced they’ll part with Eberle. Moving Smid would create more problems on defense, but I could see Paajarvi being shopped.