Oilers to be quiet?

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:39 PM ET

Unlike the previous two off-seasons, the Edmonton Oilers are not expected to go after a big fish when free agents hit the streets on Thursday.

In all fairness, the team has already made a splash with the way they’ve reshaped their roster.

That doesn’t mean, however, they won’t dip into the market.

“Once we see what the market is like tomorrow, how it establishes itself, then we’ll start determining value,” said Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini Wednesday. “It’ll be interesting.”

Ilya Kovalchuk is the highest-profile player available starting Thursday, but he’s not someone the Oilers will be going after.

They won’t be offering the type of cash they did in an effort to lure Marian Hossa to town in 2008 and are not in the market for a big-name goaltender, preferring to stick with Nikolai Khabibulin, who signed a multi-year deal last off-season.

“We’re just looking to do the right things here,” Tambellini said. “We know where we are with our organization, we’re in a rebuild mode. We’re going to have some young people potentially playing in premium spots.

“The stage to add that real high-end free agent is when you really think you have a chance to win.

“We’re in a building mode now and trying to make sure that we can develop some exciting young people and surround them with something that they don’t have, whether it’s experience or strength, we need to do that.”

That may or may not include a high-end enforcer; a few are available, including Derek Boogaard, John Scott, Brian McGrattan, Jody Shelley and ex-Oiler Georges Laraque.

The Oilers also have decisions to make on their own unrestricted free agents that include Jason Strudwick, Mike Comrie and Fernando Pisani.

Of the three, it’s believed Strudwick could provide the most value to a young team.

“Jason Strudwick has great value in our dressing room,” Tambellini said. “And as far as from a leadership perspective, I thought he played hard last season.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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