Monday, July 02, 2012
Summer has started off with a bang here at the McLean household. When you're young and fancy free between school daze and when you start a family as you wander down the road year after year the signposts are few and far between. Whatever holidays are important (say Christmas), maybe the start of your hockey season, maybe an annual weekend you get together with buddies to roar.
Once kids enter the picture then you'll feel like you're heading through downtown Toronto on the Gardiner. Blink and you'll miss your offramp.
Some days - Christmas, Mother's Day, Father's Day - grow in meaning. Others, Easter and Halloween, suddenly reappear after years away. Then you have your family vacations to see the grandparents (we go to PEI every summer for two weeks and also up north to see my folks for a week as well as a visit around Easter and near Christmas). Jenn's parents come in the spring and in the fall every year.
And with school and activities you have the ballet recitals and soccer playoffs and the start and end of each, the Christmas concert and the spring concert and the fun fair in June at the school. Plus Jenn has an annual gettogether with her gang and a run or two and I have a hockey pool and a tournament and so on. Every Christmas and usually once a summer we get together with two other families that we are close to and have a dinner and drinks while the kids run around. Today is the day for that, just before summer vacations begin and we all disappear for weeks on end.
Its a busy life but its a good one and I'd rather not have it any other way, even though it keeps us running. The kids wrapped up school on Thursday and since then its been full on. Friday night a barbeque with the neighbours. Saturday we visited my oldest friend and his family and had a nice supper and caught up. Yesterday the kids on the street had a massive water fight and afterwards we parents sat in the shade of a big old tree on the boulevard and shot the shit and had a beer or two. And then last night we took the kids out for our annual end of school dinner. They choose where to go and so it was Korean barbeque last night, celebrating good grades and a good year allround.
If you are a hockey fan then July 1st is a day that sticks out each year because its an annual orgy of ridiculous spending where teams overpay players in order to ... well, we're unsure what they are trying to do. Impress the fans? The media?
I'm trying to think of the big UFA the Kings had on their roster. Maybe Willie Mitchell? The Bruins obviously had Chara, signed years ago, and Chicago had Hossa and Campbell. The Pens had Gonchar.
So the UFA route can make your team a lot better if you get super high end guys (derrrrrr) or if you are getting good quality guys on the cheap somehow but for the most part, like the trade deadline, you're getting a whole lot of sound and fury etc etc.
The Oilers moves in free agency over the past few years have brought very little to make the team better. Khabibulin was a disastrous signing, the biggest blunder of them all. For the most part the Oilers moves have been small ones, thank God. They give lower end guys shortterm deals. You might complain about the fact that Belanger and Eager got three years but the money isn't ridiculous at all. Belanger was a good move that didn't work out and he may rebound this year. Eager was more iffy and one suspects he may be out the door but then again maybe he too can be more effective this season. The concussion he suffered derailed his season before it even began.
This year the spending has been less ridiculous than usual although I expect the Suter and Parise contracts will be insane and that we will see plugs getting big money as clubs try and get to the salary floor a la Florida last season. The worst move was the Wideman one by far imo (although John Scott is up there), the best was Garrison by Vancouver. Guy has had two excellent years in Florida, one playing with Weaver, one with Campbell. Canucks have enough quality on their blue and team overall that he is going to excel at whatever role they need him in (shutdown or more offensive).
The Oilers ... well with the Oilers (and all teams of course) we really can't rate them until the dust settles. They aren't done yet and they have a disturbing tendency to follow good move with bad (although the good moves are more frequent these days) but the last few days have been good to Oiler fans.
1/ The Schultz move was an enormous coup. He may bust but if he does it will be an huge surprise. The contract is perfect and he is a superb prospect. He is exactly what the Oilers need, a RH Dman, well rounded, big offensive upside, plus he isn't a teenager. The Oilers are a top four D away from having their best and deepest D in years.
2/ I wanted Ryan Smyth signed badly. He should have never been allowed to leave in the first place. A great contract. He can still play although one would suspect his minutes get reduced this season as he faded last year. He's a guy who can still play the toughs, slide around the lineup, play special teams. Good teams keep their good players and Smyth is still a good player.
3/ Yann Denis is a nice depth move. I want to see Khabibulin replaced but I can't see them burying him in the minors so this is probably the G depth chart.
4/ Hordichuk is a waste of a roster spot. Like MacIntyre before him (although Hordichuk is a better player than him) he didn't prevent the Oiler kids from getting run. What's the answer? Killer PP and I think an Oiler kid getting his stick up here or there to let people know they won't take it. If Hartikainen gets a spot it likely won't hurt either. Anyhow its a waste but one year for cheap is better than a couple of years or more for another guy who can't play so it could have been worse.
So what's left? Here's the depth chart for now :
C - Ted, Gagner, Horcoff, Belanger, Lander
LW - Hall, Paajarvi, Smyth, Hartikainen, Eager, Petrell
RW - Eberle, Hemsky, Yakupov, Jones, Omark, Hordichuk
D - Smid, Petry, Whitney, J. Schultz, N. Schultz, Sutton, Potter, Peckham
G - Dubnyk, Khabibulin
Too many players first of all. We know Omark is going to get dealt and that Lander will be in OKC but unless Paajarvi or Hartikainen gets shipped out, the club needs to make some moves.
I would like to see one more upgrade on D and I suspect that is the next move to come. It may be a move like the one for Lubo, for a guy like Streit with a year left on his contract, a guy to bridge to Klefbom. Or it may be a bigger fish in which case we'd see a roster player(s) or high end prospects moved. Rumours are Hemsky is being shopped again. I'd rather he stay (do I have to repost the Hemsky ones again?!?!?) and if he's being dangled he's not bringing back a healthy quality top four D at this time, not on his own anyways.
Another top four D would give the Oilers three good pairs if Whitney is healthy (big if) and Schultz Junior can step right in and play quality. Worse case if that is your third pair then you're not in too bad shape.
I don't think other moves are necessary up front (move out Omark and Eager and ship out Lander and you have 14 forwards) but I think we're going to probably see a couple of housekeeping moves and probably one or two bigger ones (including a jawdropper I am sure) before they are done.
Here's hoping they get it right.
Posted by Black Dog at 12:03 PM