Q: Have the Edmonton Oilers ever traded or released a player and brought him back?
A: Lots of times. Start with team president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe. He was traded to the New York Rangers for Roman Oksiuta in 1992 and came back when his contract was up in 1997. Obviously, Ryan Smyth returned after being dealt to the New York Islanders for Robert Nilsson, Ryan O’Marra and a first-round draft pick (Alex Plante). Glenn Anderson left for the Toronto Maple Laefs with stops in New York (Rangers) and St. Louis and came back. So did goalie Bill Ranford and centre Ken Linsemen. And defenceman Steve Smith was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks, then went to the Calgary Flames before resurfacing as an assistant coach here.
Q: Is there a rule against a team re-signing a player it used the amnesty buyout on? Could the Oilers buy out Shawn Horcoff at his $5.5-million salary-cap hit and re-sign him for $3.5 million for the next two to three years? They could use his experience. Maybe Craig MacTavish could use his MBA to good advantage.
A: Teams cannot re-sign their buyout players for a calendar year, as far as I know. I don’t know if the Oilers would use the amnesty buyout, which doesn’t count against the team salary cap, on their captain, who has two years left on his contract. It makes sense fiscally, but he does have the “C” on his jersey. I think there’s a better chance to use the amnesty on centre Eric Belanger (one year left at $1.75 million) and Ben Eager (cap hit of $1.1 million, one year left).
Q: I noticed that Sergei Gonchar is an unrestricted free agent? Why not sign him for one year to tutor Oscar Klefbom, Justin Schultz and Jeff Petry?
A: Gonchar, 39, is winding up his third season with Ottawa and has been a very good player for a long, long time. He’s played 1,177 games and has scored 774 points. He actually would be a nice mentor for Klefbom and some of the other young Oilers defencemen, but I think the Senators will re-sign him for a lot less money than he’s been making ($5 million). He’s still got game left (26 points, plus-three). He likes it in Ottawa and would take less dough to stay there. At his age, would anybody sign him for more than one season with the cap coming down? I doubt it.
Q: Why do the Oilers have Jonathan Cheechoo playing in Oklahoma City? Couldn’t he help the Oilers?
A: The Oilers signed Cheechoo, the former Maurice Richards winner for goals in a season with 56 in 2005-06 in San Jose with Jumbo Joe Thornton as his set-up man, to a professional tryout agreement in late January. He stayed the entire season on the American Hockey League farm team. He scored 32 points in 35 games and has six in 10 playoff games for the Barons, who are in the AHL’s Western Conference final. Cheechoo’s footspeed has been an issue at the NHL level. He still has nice hands, but the Oilers have lots of wingers. Unless he’s a top-six guy, there’s really no room for him. He is one of the game’s really good guys, however. He’s only 32. He was traded from San Jose to Ottawa as part of the Dany Heatley trade in 2009.
Q: Watching these playoffs, has there been talk of them going to four-on-four in overtime like in regular season?
A: The OTs in these playoffs haven’t lasted very long, none to the 17th minute of the first overtime period until the Senators won Sunday night’s game at 7:39 of the second overtime period. Many games have ended in the first five minutes four-on-five, so I don’t think four-on-four is a consideration. Now if games drag on and on and players look dead-tired in multiple overtimes, opening it up to four-on-four in the playoffs makes sense to me to end it. But the NHL is tradition-bound in the playoffs. You play until the game ends, five-on-five unless there’s penalties.
Q: What are the chances the Oilers could land Nathan Horton?
(Roger Edwards in Vancouver)
A: Actually, you also asked about Matt Duchene, but there’s no way the Colorado Avalanche are dealing him, even if you like the idea of Duchene between Hall and Eberle. Horton has had a very good playoff for the Boston Bruins after a very pedestrian regular season (22 points, 13 goals). He is an unrestricted free agent and the Bruins are not crazy about paying him $4 million any longer. If he’d take less, they would consider it, I’m sure. I suspect 10 teams or so will make a push for Horton because he’s a power forward, although I don’t think he’s been quite as effective since his bad concussion during the 2011 Stanley Cup final, when Aaron Rome nailed him. Horton turns 28 on May 29, which makes him attractive, and he is big (six-foot-two, 230 pounds). For sure, the Oilers could use him. They will make a push to sign him, but they won’t be alone. How high do they go to sign him?
Q: Who is a top-two defenceman the Oilers could get?
A: It depends who the Oilers would be trading? Would the Oilers trade for Francois Beauchemin? No. Dennis Seidenberg in Boston? No. Brent Seabrook in Chicago? Not a chance. Dan Girardi in New York? Unlikely. Brooks Orpik in Pittsburgh? No, and he’s their heart-and-soul D-man. I’d like the Oilers to take a run at Fedor Tyutin. He’s big, strong and has fairly good offensive ability, plus a heavy shot. The Columbus Blue Jackets need wingers. The Oilers would likely have to trade one of their young guns (Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) to get a top-two defenceman, but they’re not trading those guys. In a few years, Klefbom could be a No. 2 D-man. There’s no reason why he can’t be a minute-muncher like a Ryan McDonagh with the New York Rangers.
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