Monday, June 30, 2008
Excuse me while I get a hold of myself, so to speak.
Anyways seeing as Lowe is going to dip into the free agent market or trade Joni Pitkanen for Hossa, Jagr, Havlat, Kovalchuk, Demitra, Spezza, Fisher and Vermette, Bouwmeester, Hull, Howe and Orr in their prime (total cap hit - 500 grand!), the ghost of Howie Morenz, Alaska, Louisiana, an original print of Citizen Kane, a copy of Ulysses signed by the author, Guinness for life, a trip to Bud Camp, the key to success, Paris Hilton's virginity, Natalie Portman's phone number, tigers, lions, elephants, buffaloes, donkeys, giraffes, octopuses, rhinoceroses, and moose, one wonders, what, no rabbits are available?
I can only imagine what happens when Lowe's acquisitions turn out to be Kyle Calder, Duvie Westcott and Ian White but for now we will dare to dream. The next twenty four hours or so will, as always, be insane.
Lets just hope that Kevin Lowe keeps his head whilst those around him lose theirs.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Check out Mirtle's list of prominent UFAs and RFAs.
Pretty weak for the most part as teams sign their big names long before they hit the market, Vinny the latest to get the lifetime deal.
Coveted UFA (allegedly) Ryan Malone with two more points then Sam Gagner, this despite playing with Malkin or Crosby.
I'm reading Gare Joyce's book on scouting now; I believe LT did a post on it around Christmas. Really interesting stuff. Very early on he talks about Bonsignore and Ryan Smyth and the Oilers' thoughts when they drafted them and how one became a very good NHL player and the other ended up a total bust. One of the things that has struck me so far is a comment that the scouts' goal is to find a guy who can help their club win a Stanley Cup. Thats it. Of course this sounds quite obvious but I think its relevant to the foolishness that is going to happen on Canada Day.
A lot of happens on July 1st has nothing to do with accomplishing the goal of winning a Cup. Sometimes its PR plain and simple. Sometimes its a GM trying to save his job. Sometimes its just plain filler.
I think how a team behaves in the FA market, just as it does at the trade deadline, should be determined by context. At the trade deadline (or during the season) you shouldn't sell your future just to make the playoffs. The Oilers trading Brodziak, Pouliot and Chorney for Hossa and Dupuis would have been silly. They may have made the playoffs where they would have gotten waxed. Hossa would have left and the Oilers would have been short three young players who may have played a role three years down the road. On the other hand Pittsburgh making the move was a brilliant one, especially now as their roster looks to get ravaged. This seems like common sense but I think Don Waddell would be pretty happy to still have Coburn on his roster.
Presently the Oilers should be looking for filler, if they are looking for anything at all. Last summer they should have done the same. Signings like Garon, Tjarnqvist, Sykora - one or two year deals. That's all.
I can live with the Penner deal if he pots thirty a year for the next four years. Looking at this club the fact is there is weakness on the wing, especially LW, on the big club and on the farm. If this team is going to contend in 2009/2010 and in the following two years (this is the window I see) then Penner can play a role in that, I believe.
Which brings us back to Souray. Souray for two year or three years - filler until the kids matured - would have been ok. If you have the cap room and you want to blow it on Sheldon and that's not going to effect retaining other assets, then go to town. Waste of money, I think, but at least the contract is off the books quickly. Garth Snow has done a nice job keeping the Islanders competitive with this type of contract. Give a guy a good payout for a year or two and then let him move on when hopefully you have a young cheap alternative arriving from your farm syatem.
This is what worries me about the Oilers' new found wealth. Spending it on a five year contract for Mike Commodore or Ryan Malone isn't smart, not when you have guys who can match what they do for half the price. Bring in Mike Commodore to play second or third pair makes no sense when its going to cost 3M plus, likely, and you already have Gilbert, Staios and Greene. If you don't like Greene, fair enough, trade him but don't replace him with a guy making three times what you need to pay for a third pairing guy.
If I am Kevin Lowe I am trying to move Roloson and getting Horcoff to sign a contract like Langkow's. I am passing on Wade Redden, a second pairing Dman in a weaker conference. I'm passing on everyone.
I have Pitkanen and Grebeshkov on LD, two youngsters with a nice upside. I also have Smid and a bunch of other kids bubbling under, especially on the back end. Up front I am standing pat as well unless I have tagged Cogliano as my third line centre. If that is the role the organization sees for him then blow your brains out on a one or two year deal for Demitra or his equivalent.
Myself I would see if Nilsson, Cogliano and Gagner are the real deal. Personally I would give Pouilot a whirl as the third line pivot between Torres and Pisani. Of course that means Stoll is gone.
If Glencross goes then I bring in a tough guy to play some minutes on the fourth line when Moreau inevitably goes down.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Draft weekend goes by, mostly with a whimper from our point of view. As LT says the Oilers are (remain) porridge.
Coming out of the lockout and right up until June 19th 2006 the Oilers had their identity. Even the big money guys they picked up, Pronger and Peca, fit in with the post dynastic Oilers' ethos, the hard working (well maybe not Peca during the season, yeah), solid, willing to get your hands dirty, hard driving team symbolized by Smyth and Smith. Always underdogs, usually driven by a bunch of hardworking kids making relatively little money, these, ladies and gentlemen, were your Edmonton Oilers.
The team coming out of the lockout almost redeemed all of those long years of falling short of the playoffs, losing to Dallas, just not having enough to get there. Some would say that that team, despite falling short, did do just that. What a beauty team. Things looked great for the future of the franchise.
Then the wheels came off. Pronger asked to be traded and the centrepiece of the return was a disaster. Laddy Smid and the kids in the system may someday make Lowe look good but the removal of Pronger set the team into a tailspin that they only began to emerge from in February. Lowe jumped back and forth with no apparent plan in place. 2006/2007 lacked D from the get go and the vaunted offence never got off the ground as players underachieved right across the board. Injuries derailed some players, in Stoll's case, maybe permanently. Even the rare good move, trading for an unknown Czech defenceman, Jan Hejda, unravelled when they let him get away last summer for nothing. Hejda is now signed long term in Columbus, playing top two minutes, coming out on top in that situation, and doing so on the cheap. Having that type of guy on your roster (like Garon last year) is golden. A guy who can play those type of minutes for relatively nothing leaves cash open elsewhere. Some people think that the Hejda issue is a bit of a joke, not worth mentioning. To me that loss was one of the worst mistakes of an organization that was paralyzed and clueless after Pronger's departure.
The trade of Ryan Smyth for prospects and a pick signified the end of the old Oilers and that the Oilers were truly rebuilding. Last summer they had a nice draft and picked up another nice piece in Pitkanen, moving Jason Smith and Lupul to get him. The jury remains out on Joni but Lowe showed that if he knows one thing its when to pull the trigger on a declining Dman. Smith has gone from being a top two Dman on a SCF team to struggling playing second pairing minutes for Philly in the playoffs. That move and the one for Grebeshkov made it look like maybe Lowe had his mojo back.
And then came Souray and Penner. Penner is still to be evaluated. The Oilers' surge meant the Ducks stayed out of the lottery but Penner's cost left the Oilers rather quiet on draft day. I think that Penner may still work out. If he scores thirty a year for the duration of the contract it may be a winner. Look at what Ryan Malone looks to be in line for.
I was onside with the Smyth trade because paying an over thirty guy a ton of cash doesn't strike me as particularly bright. The Oilers then paid an inferior player to Smyth with a terrible injury history the big money. PR move or not, it remains a stupid move. Jan Hejda isn't going to put up the PP numbers but he's a better Dman at a fraction of the cost. Oh well. Spilled milk, right? The Leafs have nearly a half dozen Sourays.
Anyhow, this leadup brings us to where we are now, which is ten years ago, really. I think the Oilers may be in the lower end of the playoff mix this year. They may make it, they may fall short. The good thing is that Lowe sounds like he is not diving into the shallow UFA pool this year and it appears like he is not moving Pitkanen. I am happy that he didn't dump a good cheap player like Pouliot or Brodziak for a pick. The fact that Camallerri and Tanguay were had for so little is a bit frustrating but imo the Oilers have their top six already. Lets see if Gagner, Nilsson and Cogliano have it in them to beat up on soft opp over a full year. Why move one of them for a five million dollar player who will be gone in two years?
There is still a logjam in the bottom six although Jacques' surgery and the resolution of Glencross' status in ten days will begin to make this clearer. With Pouliot staying I would say that out fourth line will have him as the centre between Brodziak and Glencross or Moreau.
I also wonder if Marty's days are done.
We're porridge - the last two summers made the Oilers that. But out of the porridge we're seeing the team emerge. Young, fast, skilled. Eberle ( a terrific pick I think) fits in with Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson, Hemsky, Horcoff, Brodziak, Pouliot, Gilbert, Grebeskov, Pitkanen, Smid and the raft of prospects coming up - Nash, Peckham, Petry, Chorney, Wild and so on.
There remain a lot of holes and another pick or two would have been nice but I am happy with this team. The Oilers are building. Trading picks and prospects for grinders is not the way to build. Doing it from within is the way to go.
I think in two years we'll see this start to pay off.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Top six forwards, which the Oilers allegedly need, range from Crosby and Zetterberg to Nagy and Jason Blake, so in other words the Oilers could be giving up every kid on the roster or they could be taking a kid from the Leafs to make the Blake contract a reasonable one to take on. (btw - the Leafs have no kid who would make that happen)
Now, Jason Spezza is an attractive player, an elite offensive player at a very young age and, if the Sens are dangling him then the Oilers should find out what they want for him. Truth is though that even with the rumours about Spezza being part of the Emery crowd on that club I can't see the Sens moving him. They just signed him to a longterm deal - is it probable that they soured on him that quickly? Unless they are going to blow it all up, which would mean moving Alfredsson as well, then moving Spezza makes no sense. And if they are blowing it up then you had better start with Pitkanen and Gagner or Cogliano as your starting point for a deal. Top ten offensive players under the age of twenty five don't fall off trees.
Your second tier guy would be a guy like Carter. Once again though the Stoll, Greene and Schremp deal likely won't get this done. One possibility though - a collection of prospects plus maybe Grebeshkov. The Flyers are a mess on the back end.
Personally I think the plan is to drop Cogliano to the third line and that Stoll will be moved. I think that they do sign Horcoff because he was on track for thirty plus goals last year and he can play both ways and he can win draws and he is great on the PK. Is he Zetterberg, Crosby or Malkin? No. But he is a better player then say, Oli Jokinen, whose failure to score an ES goal in 19 straight games during the spring caused Jack Martin to call him out. Jokinen is on his way out but if Gagner is the guy who is going to be your scorer down the road why bring in another guy cut from the same cloth?
I think the Oilers are looking at 2010-2012 as the years they contend. Moving one of three young defencemen who can possibly play top four minutes doesn't make sense to me when that window is not here yet. I've said it before and I will say it again. Next summer they sign one of Pitkanen or Grebeshkov longterm and move the other.
Maybe they bring in a Sykora type for this year but imo that makes no sense unless they move Cogliano as mentioned before.
Here's the deal - remember Detroit and their contracts. No underperformers, plenty of overperformers. Last season the Oilers had plenty of the former. Talking about negotiations with Glencross Olyzyk says they don't need a guy making big money in their bottom six. No kidding, they already have four.
So here is the plan:
- keep Pitkanen and Grebeshkov and evaluate them, when all is said and done sign one longterm and move the other
- evaluate Garon and sign him if he passes the test; its becoming clearer and clearer that an elite goaltender is not necessary to win the Cup
- sign Horcoff; his skillset is one that is tough to find, replacing him with a kid scorer means you have three kids down the middle
- is Cogliano the second or third line centre? I would play him on the second line and see if he has what it takes, then you can let Stoll try and recapture some of his lost magic
- begin to move the bad contracts - Moreau? Roloson?
- position yourself to move Souray, paying a guy that coin is ridiculous
That's a start. Its pointing towards 2009/2010. This year try and compete for a playoff spot. Unless a Pronger type deal comes available again then see what you have and make the moves next offseason.