This summer could mark a changing of the guard in Edmonton, according to Craig MacTavish.
The Oilers GM appeared on Edmonton’s 1260 The Team radio Thursday to discuss the future of his club — a future that apparently doesn’t involve three veteran presences: goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, forward Ales Hemsky and captain Shawn Horcoff.
“Sometimes change is good for both the organization and the player,” MacTavish explained. “I have a lot of allegiance, loyalty for both Horc and Hemmer.
“[But the] ideal scenario would be to move them on and wish them the best.”
MacTavish then added the Oilers will “go in a different direction” from the 40-year-old Khabibulin, who is an unrestricted free agent.
It’ll be interesting to see if MacTavish — who, upon being hired in April, promised to do “bold things” with the Oilers — is able to go in a different direction from Horcoff and Hemsky.
The former has been Edmonton’s captain since 2010, but holds one of the league’s less desirable contracts — a six-year, $33 million deal with a $5.5 million annual cap hit and modified no-trade clause for next season.
It expires in 2015.
Horcoff, 34, is also coming off a tough campaign, scoring just 12 points in 31 games while averaging 16:51 TOI, his lowest total in eight years.
Hemsky should be easier to move. He’s in the final season of a two-year, $10 million deal (a $5 million cap hit) and doesn’t have a no-trade or -movement clause.
The 29-year-old Czech has had injury issues — he’s missed a ton of games over the last four years — but, when healthy, can contribute offensively. He has 120 points in his last 176 games.
Horcoff could end up being a buyout casualty, though veteran Edmonton Journal scribe Jim Matheson put the odds of that happening at 50-50.
The buyout is just one option under terms of the NHL’s new CBA.
Another is for the Oilers to retain part of Horcoff’s salary in a trade, though it’s unclear if management is willing to go that route.