Oilers have holes to fill on defence
This will be Steve Tambellini's first trade deadline as head honcho of the Edmonton Oilers, so it will be interesting to see if he feels pressured to do something significant.
Unrestricted free agent Erik Cole's name has been widely circulated in trade rumours involving Eastern clubs, specifically Boston and Pittsburgh. The question needs to be asked: If those teams think he's that important, why couldn't he help the Oilers?
Cole has 10 goals in the last 27 games as of Feb. 25, which is certainly respectable. On paper, his playoff stats aren't great, but you have to figure he will be incredibly stoked to do well in the postseason if he gets there.
Remember, Cole hasn't really been through the postseason grind in seven years. In 2006 with Carolina he came back for the last two games of the final from his serious neck injury, but was more an inspirational figure than anything else.
The Oilers have picked up a player ahead of the deadline — Fernando Pisani. The winger has endured a lot of struggles in the last two seasons, but he pulled a John Druce/Chris Kontos the last time Edmonton was in the playoffs, scoring 14 goals.
Defenceman Denis Grebeshkov is also close to a return since he suffered a high ankle sprain on Feb. 11 after he was slew-footed by Tomas Plekanec of the Montreal Canadiens. Plekanec was suspended two games, and Grebeshkov's been out ever since.
The 25-year-old has four goals and 21 assists in 51 games, and is a plus-7.
Regardless of Grebeshkov's return, there are still holes on defence, particularly after Lubomir Visnovsky suffered a shoulder injury that forced him to have season-ending surgery.
In 50 games this season Visnovsky had eight goals, 23 assists and was plus-6. He was a key component to the team's struggling power play.
The Oilers have been at the precipice of the Western Conference playoff race due to desire and goaltending more than anything else. They rank in the bottom 10 in power play, penalty killing, shots and shots allowed.