Lowe may be buyer, not seller

BOB STAUFFER

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

While most experts suggest that the Edmonton Oilers are likely to be sellers at the NHL trade deadline, do not be surprised if General Manager Kevin Lowe is a buyer who will look at making a pitch for some second-line scoring depth.

The organization does not want a repeat of the finish to the 2006-07 season, when the team hit the skids for the final quarter of the season after the Ryan Smyth trade.

In addition, the Oilers don't have the benefit of having their own first-round draft choice, which was given up with the Dustin Penner RFA signing.

In a perfect world, the Oil would make a two- or three-for-one to land a front-line talent like a Marian Hossa out of Atlanta, but that isn't going to happen.

A player who could be had is the Montreal Canadiens' Michael Ryder. This is not a revelation to anybody who follows the Habs as Ryder has struggled through a tough season with just eight goals and 18 points in 49 games.

Ryder is making $2.95 million this season, and the Oilers are within about $700,000 of the cap, but they always have the option of putting a Raffi Torres on long-term injury if they needed to fit the two-time 30-goal scorer under the cap.

The Oilers could test drive Ryder, a UFA, for a 20 game stretch, kind of like how RFA Curtis Glencross is getting an audition right now.

Canadiens General Manager Bob Gainey has a reputation of not making deals for the sake of making a deal, but Montreal could use a little vinegar up front.

Would J.F. Jacques be enough for a 20-game Ryder rental?

Jacques has been a little nicked up down on the farm in Springfield dealing with elbow and back problems, but has pretty much proven all that he can at the AHL level.

A change of place might do him some good.

The same can be said for Ryder, who notched 35 of the 60 goals he scored in the two previous seasons on the vaunted Canadiens power play.

With Mathieu Garon clearly claiming the No. 1 goaltending job with the Oilers, it goes without saying Lowe would consider moving Dwayne Roloson.

There is likely only one way in which "Roli the Goalie" gets traded in the short term, since he carries a $3.667 million cap hit - and that is through injury.

Here's the scenario. If a team that thinks it can win the Stanley Cup loses their No. 1 guy between now and the trade deadline, Roloson has a chance to be in play.

Barring a Stanley Cup contender losing their goaltender for an extended period of time, watch the success of Detroit during the playoffs. If Dominik Hasek can't get it done at 43 years old, is it too much of a stretch to suggest that a team like the Red Wings may have interest in the 38-year-old Roloson during the summer?

Given Roloson's performance during the 2006 playoffs, including an upset victory over Detroit, probably not.

Much has been made of the Oilers RFA offer sheets to Thomas Vanek and Dustin Penner driving up the market place, especially from the likes of Brian Burke.

Funny thing though, nobody says much about the San Jose Sharks four-year $13.75 million dollar deal to Matt Carle.

After registering 11 goals and 42 points as a rookie, Carle has hit the skids this season with a sophomore slump that has seen him sat out on occasion. He has just 13 points and is minus-7 on the season.

The Sharks jumped the gun on Carle, and would have been in a strong arbitration position this summer with him if a deal could not have been struck.

As a result of the Carle deal, though, the Oilers Tom Gilbert who is an RFA this summer, now is in a better bargaining position.

Gilbert was the Oilers' best defenceman for the first half of the season, though his play has tallied off of late. He will likely finish the year with about 10 goals and 30 points, numbers that will draw some comparables to Carle.


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