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Three teams looking for defense

Ales Hemsky has been mentioned in trade rumors for a long time, but has only one year at a $5 million cap hit left on his contract. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Ales Hemsky has been mentioned in trade rumors for a long time, but has only one year at a $5 million cap hit left on his contract. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Craig MacTavish promised bold moves when he took over as Edmonton Oilers GM this spring, but so far the results have been underwhelming.

He shed Shawn Horcoff's $5.5-million per season cap hit last week by shipping him to the Dallas Stars for young defenseman Philip Larsen and a seventh round pick, and bolstered his defensive depth by adding veteran blueliner Andrew Ference and checking center Boyd Gordon via free agency.

But as Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun observed, the Oilers still lack a big, physical power forward, a top-two defense partner for Justin Schultz and more toughness on the checking lines.

MacTavish said he's got “a couple significant pieces” to move in hopes of addressing some of those needs. Jones speculated one of them is Ales Hemsky, who has one year at $5 million remaining on his contract.

Having shed Horcoff's expensive contract and given how quickly talent is disappearing from this summer's free agent market, MacTavish could yet find a taker for Hemsky. However, he might have to package the winger with a younger player to land a return that addresses one of the Oilers needs.

During draft weekend, MacTavish tried to acquire defenseman Braydon Coburn from Philadelphia, but talks fell through.

WAITING ON PIETRANGELO

The Flyers are reportedly watching defenseman Alex Pietrangelo's contract talks with the St. Louis Blues, though acquiring him via trade or offer sheet would be expensive.

Pietrangelo, 23, made the NHL’s second all-star team in 2012 and is considered among the best defensemen in the league. He's coming off an entry-level contract that paid him more than $3-million per season in base salary and bonuses and could seek an eight-year deal that doubles his old salary.

With the Blues inking Derek Roy to a one-year, $4-million contract on Saturday, they have only about $7.85 million in cap space.

GM Doug Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he believes he can get Pietrangelo, Chris Stewart and goalie Jake Allen “under the umbrella,” but that won't happen without shedding some salary.

Armstrong acknowledged the possibility he may have to move some bodies around, claiming the Blues have “very valuable pieces” that shouldn't be difficult to move.

Armstrong may be referring to David Perron (cap hit of $3.8 million), T.J. Oshie ($4.17 million) and Jaroslav Halak ($3.75 million) – players who have been mentioned in recent trade rumors.

As for the possibility of Pietrangelo becoming an offer sheet target, Armstrong has already warned his fellow GMs the Blues will match any offer.

AVALANCHE STILL IN TROUBLE ON DEFENSE

The Colorado Avalanche made a significant addition by selecting Nathan MacKinnon first overall in this year's NHL draft, but their defense remains a weak point.

Adrian Dater of the Denver Post believes the Avalanche's blueline corps is as mediocre as it was last season, when it ranked among the league's worst in goals-against average (3.12) and shots-against average (31.4).

Despite the additions of Cory Sarich and Andre Benoit, Dater believes a trade is the only way the Avs can improve their defense.

Paul Stastny (eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer) seems a logical trade candidate, but Dater noted the Avalanche front office is intent on retaining him.

If the Avalanche seek a defenseman they can get without giving up much in return, they should call the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the Penguins will be above the $64.3-million cap ceiling once restricted free agents Dustin Jeffrey, Robert Bortuzzo and Harry Zolnierczyk accept their qualifying offers or re-sign longer-term contracts.

That's prompted speculation defenseman Matt Niskanen ($2.3 million cap hit) is a candidate for a salary-dumping trade.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.

Want more fantasy insider information or to contact The Dobber? Check out dobberhockey.com or follow him on Twitter at @DobberHockey.

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