SUN Hockey Pool

Tambellini makes a splash

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

If nothing else, the Edmonton Oilers get credit for co-producing perhaps the most creative deal in the history of the NHL's trade deadline day.

The story of how the deal which sent Erik Cole to Carolina for Patrick O'Sullivan from Los Angeles and Ales Kotalik from the Buffalo Sabres is as good as the deal itself and an absolutely astonishing first deadline deal for rookie GM Steve Tambellini.

When the music stopped, Cole ended up back in Carolina, Justin Williams in Los Angeles, a second round pick went to Buffalo, and the Oilers had O'Sullivan and Kotalik in the deal which could help, er, all four teams.

O'SULLIVAN FOR FREE

The thing which makes this last-minute circus trade most amazing is that, when the dealing was done, the Oilers essentially got O'Sullivan for free!

Think about it.

They lose Cole, 30, an about-to-be unrestricted free agent with 16 goals and 27 points and what's left of his $4 million contract for Kotalik, 30, an about-to-be unrestricted free agent with 13 goals and 32 points and the rest of his $2.5 million deal.

Pretty much a saw-off straight up on the face of it. And it gives the Oilers the league lead in players named Ales.

O'Sullivan adds to the Oilers stock of young talent.

He's 24 years old, in his third year in the NHL, currently has 14 goals and 37 points (now fourth on the Oilers), and still has two years ($2.388 million each year) coming off a front-loaded $4 million three-year deal which will leave the Oilers with a salary cap hit of $2.925 million.

The Oilers needed several things on the trade deadline and to differing degrees they got all in both guys.

- Someone to play with Ales Hemsky.

- More top six forward scoring.

- Someone to kill penalties.

- Someone to win a face-off.

Both have played all three forward positions, although mostly on the wings.

Both kill penalties and play the power play with O'Sullivan's strength on the p.k. and Kotalik on the p.p. Both have even taken faceoffs in the past when they played centre.

But who will play with Hemsky?

Kotalik is a Czech Olympian who is not only a good friend of Hemsky but says he'd talked with the Oilers' emerging superstar about one day playing together and said he found out about the trade in a call from Hemsky before either GM called.

The Hemsky connection makes it more than possible that Kotalik may not just be here for a good time but a long time if he fits in, which certainly wasn't going to be the case with Cole who never did fit in and only started playing well as the deadline neared.

"We're excited. We're hoping both of these players can be with us for a long time. Ales is a proven player and Patrick is becoming a prominent player," said Tambellini.

"In Ales, we've added one large body player, a power forward with a heavy shot, a bomb for a shot, who plays down low and plays the point on the power play, a guy with intelligence and skill.

"Patrick is a young skilled player who plays all positions on special teams, has a great shot, will help on our power play and fits into the age group on our hockey club."

To make this your first deal as a GM (Mathieu Garon for a pail of pucks and a roll of tape doesn't count) is really rather remarkable.

O'Sullivan was originally traded, along with a second round pick from L.A. to Carolina for Williams.

Carolina then traded O'Sullivan and the second round pick to Edmonton for Cole. The Oilers then sent the second round pick to Buffalo for Kotalik.

And you know the last part of the deal was all Tambellini's after Kevin Lowe made Darcy Regier swear he'd never deal with the then-Oilers GM again after he came up with a restricted free agent offer sheet to Thomas Vanek.

10 MINUTES TO GO

Tambellini said it was about three hours before deadline when they could see such a deal was possible and about an hour and a half before deadline that they "became aggressive on it." He said it was all wrapped with less than 10 minutes to go.

Fans thought the Oilers got shut out until word came out almost an hour after deadline that of the last-minute deals not processed by the league, Edmonton was one of the teams involved. It didn't all become official until another couple hours after that.

Considering how long the wait has been for the fans, coach Craig MacTavish and Hemsky himself, what's an extra couple hours?

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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