Last night on TPS Dean brought up an interesting debate topic: Between the Edmonton Oilers and the Springfield Falcons, which club is closer to being a playoff team?
The Falcons finished dead last in the AHL last year but have made a ton of changes to their roster with a number of players not qualified and a handful of free agent signings coming in. The Oilers meanwhile have a new goalie... and that's it. Both teams have a new head coach to start the year.
It's an interesting question for sure and would make for a great discussion. For the record, I said the Oilers and Dean picked the Falcons. I think an argument could still be made for both teams not yet being playoff caliber considering the quality of teams in Springfield's division and that the Oilers haven't improver their team and are (so far) banking on players being "no worse" than they were last year.
I'm not a big fan of trade rumors or discussing them but the last couple of days at HF there has been a thread mentioning a "serious discussion between Florida and Edmonton" that would involve a few players from both sides. The names being mentioned include Tom Gilbert, Robert Nilsson and Rob Schremp from Edmonton with Panthers forwards Nathan Horton and Kenndal McArdle (pictured) although what the actual proposed deal might be is somewhat unclear.
Anyway... the person starting the rumor is writing a blog claiming "Inside information from the Oilers office". I have no idea who the creator of said blog is but most posters at HF are already labeling him as a fraud.
The suggested trade caught my attention though because I like Kenndal McArdle and have suggested in the past that he'd be a player I think could find some success in Edmonton. I think chemistry goes a long way and he's great friends with Gilbert Brule - another young player looking to establish himself in the NHL this year.
I spoke with McArdle a couple of times last season for a feature I did on him that was published in The Hockey News. I found him to be a guy with a lot of character and has a personality or quality about him that just makes you want to cheer for him.
So when his name came up in this mysterious rumor blog, I wanted to find out if there was anything to the names or teams being talked about.
Alas... I'm told that there isn't.
The Falcons have been quiet for a few days since signing Charles Linglet and Jamie Bates but I'm led to believe there might be a couple more players still on the radar. We had Rob Daum on the show last night and he mentioned that he'd like to see another top 6 forward added to the mix and potentially another defenceman, someone who could play an offensive role on the top pairing.
Eric Bogunecki's name has been mentioned by a few people. Contrary to suggestions that a deal might be close, I'm getting the opposite sense in that Edmonton's interest in him quickly evaporated after brief initial talks and that he's not in the picture.
Wyatt Smith is though but the player wants to be patient this summer, keep talking to teams through August and make a decision once he's sure all interested parties have had their say. Edmonton is one of those clubs. Smith played for both San Antonio and Norfolk last year and scored 19 goals and 47 points in 71 games... a decent player but I don't know that he satisfies Daum's desire for a top 6 guy.
Here's another name that has come up: Ajay Baines. He's been a career minor leaguer but he's been described to me as a guy any organization would love to have to help tutor their young prospects because he's a world class individual. He played two years in Hamilton including 2006-07 when the Bulldogs won the Calder Cup as AHL Champions (Zack Stortini was also on the team).
Baines isn't a big player and probably isn't a top 6 guy either but he's is someone with a lot of valuable experience at the AHL level and has the leadership qualities that makes him attractive for the farm. He had 31 points last year through 79 games with Iowa (ANH). He was a captain in Norfolk and Iowa and is shown here with the Calder Cup and a classic playoff beard.
Another player that Edmonton/Springfield has under contract that hasn't gotten any publicity is Kelly Czuy. He's a 6'2 forward from Edmonton who has spent the vast majority of his 4-year pro career playing in the ECHL with Las Vegas. He appeared in 3 games with the Falcons last year as well.
I mentioned last week that I thought tough guy Guillaume Lefebvre, who played 70 games with the Falcons last year, might be resigned by Springfield, however, I have learned that Lefebvre has turned down Edmonton's offer and will not be back in 2009-10.
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