SUN Hockey Pool

Clock keeps ticking on Oilers

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

One trade deadline down, one to go.

And still no movement on the Edmonton Oilers rebuilding front.

With the Olympic roster freeze in effect until March 1, and the trade deadline at 1 p.m. March 3, the Oilers will have less than three days to accomplish what they haven't been able to accomplish in the last three months -- make a move.

The notion that teams don't make trades anymore has pretty much been put to rest, given that 22 of the 29 other clubs have made deals this season -- Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Montreal in the last two weeks alone.

With a flock of scouts following the club through California, it's clear that the vultures want to know if there is anything on Edmonton's corpse worth picking, and fans who've watched the club lose 24 of its last 28 games will tell you there is plenty of fat available.

But that's the biggest problem.

In today's salary cap age, teams are looking for leaner cuts than the stuff GM Steve Tambellini has to offer.

Ethan Moreau, Steve Staios, Patrick O'Sullivan, Robert Nilsson, Lubomir Visnovsky, Shawn Horcoff and Sheldon Souray all have at least one more year remaining on contracts they aren't living up to, which will make them difficult to move.

There aren't five guys on the roster who are off limits -- nor should there be on a 30th place team that'll miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year -- but clearly, there aren't any buyers for what Tambellini is selling.

So the overhaul remains in a holding pattern for two weeks. General managers can discuss trades between now and 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 28, but nothing can be consummated until the freeze ends.

It's going to be tough, though. Put yourself in the other GM's chair and decide how much you would give up to take one of those guys.

Tambellini was already having trouble moving some of these pieces last summer, before their play dropped off. Now?

Now, the bar has been lowered so far fans aren't even expecting the Oilers to win a trade, only ship some warm bodies out of here to make room for the future.

In some cases, something for nothing is fine by them.

Even that might be tough.

Showcase showdown

Fans aren't the only ones eager for change. It's not hard to tell that some players could use a change of scenery, and wouldn't mind a California address.

It almost looked like a few guys were showcasing themselves in Anaheim and Los Angeles; we haven't seen that much spring in their step in years. We'll see if it worked or not when the freeze is lifted.

Look Ma, no hands

It continues to boggle the mind that people still point the finger of blame at two rookie goalies on a team that's averaging 1.76 goals per game over the last 26 games.

Consider this: Team Canada goalies Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo each have goals against averages of 2.28.

Do the math. If the Oilers score an average of 1.76 goals per game, and Brodeur and Luongo (on vastly superior teams than Edmonton) let in about 2.28 per night, how successful would they be behind this lot?

Instead of obsessing over every iffy goal and every defensive mistake, the focus should be on Edmonton's inability to score. Every goalie lets in iffy goals and every team makes defensive mistakes, but good teams mitigate those errors by scoring three or four the other way.

Nobody is saying Pat Quinn should open the gates and release the snipers, because the Oilers don't have any. That's their biggest problem, the biggest need in the rebuilding effort -- the other end of the ice, not their own.

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@EDMSUN.COM


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