Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jim Matheson defends Kevin Lowe - March 01, 2007

Jim Matheson gives Kevin Lowe all the benefit of doubt in a Q and A with fans. Here's to another 8 years of mediocrity!

Fans want to know why Edmonton GM didn't buck up or move others like Petr Sykora at trade deadline
Jim Matheson, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Thursday, March 01, 2007

Journal Hall of Fame hockey writer Jim Matheson answers your questions on the NHL ...

- - -

Q Why weren't the Oilers willing or able to pay Ryan Smyth the $5 million US to $5.5 million he was asking for? Was their best player not deemed worth it? It seems puzzling that a team in Calgary can afford $7 million for Jarome Iginla, the face of their franchise, plus $5 million-plus for Alex Tanguay and to pay a premium for players like Miikka Kiprusoff. Also the trade for Smyth seems to leave us with a lot of prospects at forward and not much else. Given that the Oilers started the year with a lot of forward depth and haven't scored enough goals because of lack of offence from the defence, is this wise?

(Sam Hillier, Irvine, Calif.)

A GM Kevin Lowe is taking major heat for not bucking up for Smyth, but I think he went very hard to sign their most popular player. If it was $5.5 million a year over five years, when Smyth would be 36 years old at the end of it, that's a fair chunk of change, folks. That's more than Simon Gagne's getting in Philadelphia, and he, like Smyth, is their best player, also four years younger. They were willing to give Smyth a fifth year when they really only wanted to give him four. It's true Calgary signed Iginla for $7 million, but Iggy was coming off a runner-up finish for the Hart trophy and a 50-goal season and had all the leverage. Ask yourself this question: If the

Oilers had still kept working on trying to sign Smyth past Tuesday's deadline and they missed the playoffs and he still walked on July 1 to, say, the New York Rangers, where Glen Sather runs the store, or to the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he can play on Mats Sundin's line, and the Oilers got ZERO for Smyth, how would you feel? It's true they're deep at forward now with prospects (Ryan O'Marra, Robert Nilsson, Andrew Cogliano and Rob Schremp), but they still need an experienced puck-moving defenceman, although Tom Gilbert and U.S. junior team captain Taylor Chorney, who may leave school, have big promise. Can they sign a veteran D-man over the summer? I suspect, they'll be in the running for Kimmo Timonen, bearing in mind the Philadelphia Flyers will make a big push for him, too.

Q Why didn't the Oilers trade Petr Sykora at the deadline? He's unrestricted, he's won a Stanley Cup (in New Jersey) and, while he doesn't bring the physical presence that Bill Guerin or Keith Tkachuk do, he has better numbers this season than both of them. And they fetched a nice price from the San Jose Sharks and Atlanta Thrashers.

(Davin Day, Mannville)

A They probably did pitch Sykora to teams, but he doesn't have the profile Guerin and Tkachuk have, plus he's more one-dimensional (a big shooter). The Thrashers were also looking more at Tkachuk as a centre where he'd been playing in St. Louis. In Guerin's case, the Sharks knew he'd played some with Joe Thornton in his Boston days, so there was a fit there. Detroit was looking for a top-six forward, but an aggressive one. Sykora doesn't fit that bill. While Sykora leads the Oilers in scoring, his play has tailed off considerably, too, the last while. He had 28 points in his first 28 games, but just 21 in the last 36 games.

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