Don't be surprised if Oilers do little at trade deadline

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

DALLAS -- There's no need to buy, and they don't have anything to sell.

So Oilers director of hockey operations Kevin Prendergast says there's every chance Edmonton will do more watching than swapping between now and Tuesday's NHL trade deadline.

No point loading up for a playoff run that essentially ended with back-to-back losses in Vancouver and Nashville.

And there's no sense unloading veterans for the sake of unloading veterans when they've already been paid for most of the season and, in many cases, their trade value is at its lowest.

"We don't really have players to sell," said Prendergast. "We like our team. We like what could happen with it. If somebody comes and makes an offer to us and we say 'We have to take this,' we'll take it. But at this point I don't see anyone out there who's going to change the makeup of our team."

NO PHILOSOPHICAL SHIFT

The last couple of games didn't change much, other than the mood in the dressing room. There hasn't been a shift in trading day philosophy now that Edmonton is all but out of it.

"They hurt because they're games we could have won," said Prendergast. "But even though (the playoff outlook) is not good we're still pretty happy with the team. We're not giving up our youth to fill a gap right now. We're not going to sell away anything for a quick fix. And teams aren't going to offer us good players for bad players. They want our better players."

The Oilers do have some underachievers and mid-level guys who could be expendable, but, again, what are they going to fetch in return?

"We have options," said Prendergast. "But it's just a question of is it the right option for our team right now? Or do we wait till the summer, wait till the draft, or get into training camp and see what we have?"

Joni Pitkanen's name has surfaced in rumours, but the odds of a playoff contender offering Edmonton somebody better than Pitkanen in a deal are slim, so why make a deal you know you're going to lose? He might not like playing hurt, and he might not be as tough as some defencemen, but how many tough defencemen with high pain thresholds can skate and move the puck like he can?

He's asking for the moon right now - upwards of $5 million a year - so they've put off contract talks for now, but he's in the plans.

"We talked to the agent earlier and felt his request is a little offside," said Prendergast. "We'll wait and see how it goes at the end of the year. We like Joni, we want to keep Joni here, I'm sure we can work something out by the end."

They're also working on a deal for Tom Gilbert, who started very strong this season but seems to have hit a major wall (minus 11 in his last 14 games). Jarret Stoll is also a Group 2 free agent this summer and you know that after making offer sheets to Thomas Vanek and Dustin Penner, a few rival GMs might have their chequebooks ready.

"I'm sure we have a bull's-eye on our back, but we're prepared for it," said Prendergast. "If it happens we'll deal with it at the time, but we think we can get them signed before the season. All three of those guys are a big part of the team right now and hopefully we can keep them for the future."

FLIP SIDE NOT BAD

If not, they recoup the draft picks lost in the Penner deal.

Dwayne Roloson, with a $3.6 million price tag, would like to be moved as much as the Oilers would like to move him, but there hasn't been much interest.

Despite back-to-back non-playoff seasons, the future does look brighter.

"All the building blocks are in place to build a better hockey club," said Prendergast. "There were nowhere near this many positives last year."


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