A couple of weeks ago, I mused about the logic of the Flames trading away Jay Bouwmeester – a high-priced, underperforming luxury on a team that finds itself overloaded with top-four-quality defencemen. At the time, I wondered if anyone would be willing to take such a fat ($6.7-mil a year)contract off the Flames’ hands, and might even be willing to part with something the Flames would want in return.
Well, I think I’ve figured out someone for whom this trade would make sense: Oilers GM Steve Tambellini.
What? Deal a prized d-man to the Flames’ arch-enemy and divisional rival? Stay with me here, I’ll walk you through it.
The Oilers are pretty much weak in every area of the ice, and about the only defenceman they have that’s a legitimate NHL top-four is Sheldon Souray – who has begged to be traded and almost certainly won’t be back in an Oilers uniform next season. Sure, the Oil have the first pick in the NHL draft this month, but they’d be crazy to pick a defenceman – not with two can’t miss forwards in Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin up for grabs.
It would make sense for the Oilers to to grab Hall (or Seguin, though I personally prefer Hall, this guy’s got superstar written all over him), giving themselves a top-flight scoring talent that they’ve been lacking for years.
In fact, with both Hall and Jordan Eberle – the Regina Pats scoring machine who was the Oilers’ first-round pick in 2008, starred for Canada’s entry in the world juniors, played for Canada at the world seniors and absolutely looks NHL-ready - the Oil would potentially be instantly adding two A-list scorers to their roster next season.
But that would be like sticking two patches over the same leak, while leaving a gaping hole somewhere else in the hull of the ship; it’ll still sink. The Oilers need a major upgrade on defence more than they need to bring in two rookie scorers at the same time.
Here’s where the deal comes in.
If I’m Darryl Sutter, I’d be calling Tambellini and offering up Bouwmeester – who is, after all, a kid who was born and raised in Edmonton, making him one of the few top-flight players in the whole league who might actually be willing to move to Edmonton. (Unlike, say, Dany Heatley and Chris Pronger.) The Oilers have plenty of room in the salary cap to absorb J.Bo’s fat contract - their 2010-11 salary commitments leave them about $15-million to play with, and that doesn’t include the soon-to-be-dumped contract of Souray ($4.5-million).
All the Flames ask in return is Jordan Eberle. That’s it. Calgary takes an unproven, undersized 20-year-old who might turn out to be an NHL star, but there’s no guarantees – but if it pans out, it will finally have that playmaking centre it’s been looking for to complement Jarome Iginla. The Oilers get a proven front-line NHL defenceman who’s still only in his mid-20s, something they’ll absolutely need to get if they want to rebuild their team. And Calgary frees up some much-needed cap space, something that’s a problem for the Flames but most certainly isn’t for Edmonton.
It’s a hell of a deal, and it makes sense for both sides. I wonder if either would have the nerve to pitch it.