With the past occurrences of Michael Nylander signing with the Edmonton Oilers, then going to Washington afterwords, moving to the Chris Pronger issue, then the Dany Heatley situation, and now the Sheldon Souray dilemma; it's safe to say that Edmonton has their issues in drawing and keeping people With the team looking forward to the next season and seemingly going for a youth movement (not by choice, maybe), there would be some guys out there for their needs to fill the gap while the youngsters grow.
Yet, with all the problems that seem to come out of the Edmonton area, this is a look at which players, by position, I think won't be heading to Edmonton this summer, even if they're offered the max contract out there.
CENTER: Patrick Marleau: While he had a career year in goals (44), Marleau doesn't look to be going back to Canada anytime soon. Marleau is from the small town of Aneroid, Saskatchewan, but has played his serious hockey in the US, starting with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL and then to San Jose. Plus, his contract demands would also be too much down the middle, with Shawn Horcoff still there. He'd be a solid addition, but not much will sway him away from the warmth of the Pacific Coast.
LEFT WING: Ilya Kovalchuk: While the money issue is there, you can bet that he left the cold of Russia for the warmth of other places in North America. I don't think Edmonton would be the pick for him or his family. Kovalchuk would make a nice cornerstone for this team, but the lack of support will let Kovalchuk flee from any offer easily. He's going to go where he will be a star and have a solid set-up guy, not one or the other. Especially if Jaromir Jagr gets signed by Edmonton, he'd not be in that shadow.
RIGHT WING: Jaromir Jagr: Don't believe the hype when it comes to the Jagr signing in Edmonton. As Tim Matheson pointed out, Jagr wants any team that signs him to sign Roman Cervenka, as well. In addition, the age is catching up to Jagr. The risk of signing Cervenka and a complaining Jagr is not worth the reward of both of them being good and contributing to the team's rebuild. It'd be nice if Jagr could mentor Ales Hemsky more, but I doubt it'll happen.
DEFENSE: Paul Martin: While it's a good gag that Albertans will hate the name being there (that's also the name of a former Canadian prime minister), the fact is that he would never be lured there like Sheldon Souray and have all the pressure onto him. Considering this is the team that gave up the most goals this year (284), and if Martin were to come in-- he'd be expected to be the shutdown guy and then be run out on a rail, I'm sure.
GOALIE: Antero Niittymaki: The logjam in net for Edmonton is already at an all-time high with decisions to be made, but Niittymaki could be lured because of Nikolai Khabibulin's injury issues. And while his play does conjure up the thoughts of other Oilers' Finnish goalie greats like Jussi Markkanen and Kari Takko; Niittymaki would want a place where he could thrive and have a chance at a meaningful game in late-March rather than picking out tee-times.
While this is all in good fun (Thanks to "Johnny Wrath" on Twitter for his brain-storming), these things could definitely come true in the long-run. We'll have to check back in the fall to see which are true, false, whatever. (This is also filler. YAY!!) But, it also shows how the onus of the past in Edmonton could really hurt them in the long-term of things. If bad commentary (like Souray) and reneging on a contract (Nylander) happen within three years-- the reputation of this once proud organization needs to be rebuild from the ground up. Which could mean....front office overhaul. That remains to be seen how Daryl Katz deals with that.