Oilers' addition by subtraction

TERRY JONES, Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:48 PM ET

Welcome, fans, to the last day of Edmonton Oilers hockey season.

After today, until the NHL holds its little lottery to determine if the last-place Oilers get to pick first or second in the June 26 Entry Draft, thereís nothing that matters.

None of the games matter.

But today matters.

Wednesday is trade deadline day, and an Oilers fan can get up this morning, if not exactly excited in a ĎWhatís going to be under the Christmas tree?í sort of a way, at least in a ďSee if it is possible for Steve Tambellini to do something other than shuffle the deck chairs on the Titanic?Ē sort of way.

Thereís all sorts of deals out there where somebody might take one of the contract problems off your hands if youíll take one of the contract problems off his hands.

But the old change-of-scenery deals arenít likely to fly in this hockey-savvy market where the team itself is mopping up the season. And who really cares who is wearing the uniforms for the rest of the year?

I donít see how itís possible to move Shawn Horcoff, Lubomir Visnovsky or Sheldon Souray without taking an equally big and/or bad contract back.

Thatís not the idea here.

The idea is to gather draft choices and clear cap room.

Denis Grebreshkov and his $3.15 million for a second round pick was not too exciting. But do three or four of those and at the very least Tambellini will get his wrists out of the handcuffs heís been forced to wear since Kevin Lowe moved upstairs.

The Oilersí GM is in jail here, and I donít know if he can get out before all those bad contracts from the Lowe era run out.

What weíre dealing with here is absolute insanity. The Oilers have young talent on the way but donít even have room to squeeze any of them into the lineup right now because of all the bad contracts the team is carrying.

The Oilers have decided to change the culture of the team but canít even get started.

Still, that doesnít mean they canít do anything. Do what you can do today. Do some more at the draft.

Think of it as a game against a big, tough, overwhelming opponent. Chip away. Chip away. Chip away.

You have to figure Ethan Moreau can be moved. Heís only a $2 million cap hit, but heís hit his expiry date with Oilers fans. Ditto for Fernando Pisani.

Steve Staios would fit into the same category in terms of being able to help somebody. But if youíre going to have a lot of young defencemen around here, it would be a good idea to hang on to a real pro like Staios, if only to just be a mentor.

Thereís an addition by subtraction factor going here if you can get to the subtraction.

Ask head coach Pat Quinn if his team gained by subtracting Grebeshkov and heíll say yes. The guy was far more of a negative than a positive with the never-ending stream of monumental mistakes in his own end and an inability to correct them.

Is there an upside left for Moreau here? You have to say no. An NHL-ready third liner like Anton Lander from Sweden wouldnít make you any worse of a hockey club for the right now and would make you a lot better for the future.

One thing you have to look at here is the top six forwards.With Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, Sam Gagner, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and possibly Taylor Hall, what do you do about the other guys not on that list?

How many of the guys here right now will be around for the team picture when the standings turn upside down?

Not many.

Anyway, enjoy today. Itís the last day of the Oilers hockey season.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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