Monday, June 30, 2008

The Sympathy Contract?

Mathieu Roy (Livelihood Stats) will not have a lengthy term NHL career as an Edmonton Oiler.

Mathieu Roy has a one-way contract for the 2008-2009 NHL season at a 0.500M cap hit. He will be compensated this amount regardless of whether he's with the Oilers, or buried in the minors after clearing waivers.

Unless, of course, he is bought out before today's (Monday) 3 p.m. MDT NHL deadline.

The Edmonton Oilers presently boast a defensive crops of:

Sheldon Souray, Joni Pitkanen, Tom Gilbert, Denis Grebeshkov, Steve Staios, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Ladislav Smid.

That's 7. With Taylor Chorney, Theo Peckham, and Josaf Hrabral breathing heavily.

Given the fact he hasn't played enough games, Roy can be bought out for a mere 1/3 of his contract, effectively ~166,667, over double the length of the contract (2 years). This would effectively mean, a minute 83,333 cap hit over the next 2 years.

Is this a sympathy contract, with the Oilers wishing to stay true to their commitment? Or does Roy really figure in the Oilers plan of press-box defenseman?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Finding a Dance Partner.....

"Talk is cheap, shut up and dance/don't get deep, shut up and dance."


I feel like I'm stealing from LT, using lyrics that fit the Oilers situation here, but it just fit too well, dammit. Kevin Lowe has talked, and talked, and talked, since he dealt Pronger. But he hasn't done a whole lot besides talk, and it's time for him to just shut up, find a dance partner, and make some magic happen. If we have to wait any longer, we're going to have to hear about his new hair cut....

Since the lockout, Kevin Lowe has entered every season with an unbalanced roster. In 05-06 we saw the Conkabostonaccentnenn experiment. Following that, the Oilers rolled up the rim all of 06-07, with a D Corps that left everyone wanting a lot more, and last year we hit the ground running with more rookies than the Florida Marlins usually have.

This year?

There's a lot of 6's and 7's, and a lot of guys who sure look like they're on their way to becoming Q's and K's... but there's also very few actual Q's and K's. Thanks to a hot streak at the end of the season that clearly wasn't sustainable, the Oilers fan base is expecting a playoff birth.

Looking at the depth chart, an argument can be made that the Oilers have as many as 17 forwards and 8 D who should at the least be in the pressbox instead of in the AHL. They've paid their dues, and it's time for the Oilers to make a decision. Lets assume that Penner, Horcoff, Hemsky, Gagner, Moreau, Pisani and Nilsson are the forwards not moving anywhere for any reason, and that Souray, Pitkanen, Grebeshkov, Gilbert and Staios are the D that can safely own instead of rent. That leaves: Cogliano (Who is only dealt in a deal that brings back a young, star), Smid, Greene, Schremp, Pouliot, Stoll, Torres and Chorney as players of interest.

The Oilers needs are pretty obvious from my standpoint, either a LW to improve the top unit and allow Penner to give some toughness and take some time with two of the kids, or a legit D. First round picks certainly aren't a bad thing, but they're not going to come easily in another hyped draft, unless we're dealing two players to a very desperate team.

Basically, the Oilers can offer young depth to a rebuilding team. Smid and Greene would certainly garner interest, Cogliano is a deal breaker, and a lot of teams would still like guys like Torres and Stoll on their roster. Chorney is pretty close to being a blue chip guy himself, and Pouliot and Schremp at this point in their careers are more of a throw in to finish a deal. We know the Oilers won't won't make deals with any of Calgary, Vancouver, Colorado, Buffalo or Anaheim for varying reasons. I wouldn't rule out a deal with Minnesota.

So first, we'll look for teams that actually have that player who could or could not be the missing piece and whom the Oilers will deal with, and whom presumably could be available for the right package. We'll get into the package after. Basically, right now we're just identifying youngish LW's and youngish D's who have high upside, but aren't Alexander Ovechkin. They must at least be Sophomores, but ideally we're talking about a guy on his second contract.

Atlanta - Kovalchuk, Exelby
Carolina - Cole, Williams
Chicago - Havlat, Keith
Columbus - Zherdev, Tollefsen
Florida - Bouwmeester
LA - Frolov
Minnesota - Gaborik
Montreal - Higgins, Komisarek
Nashville - Hamhuis
New Jersey - Elias
Philly - Gagne
Phoenix - 1st in '09
Pittsburgh - 1st in '09
San Jose - Michalek
St. Louis - Kariya, McKee
Tampa - 1st in '09, Ranger
Toronto - 1st in '09, Steen
Washington - Semin, Green

Now, I'm not denying there are some big, big name tickets on the board there. The chances of actually landing a guy like Kovalchuk or Gaborik are minimal at best, but that's not the point of this exercise. What I'm looking for here simply, is to name every possible acquisition that wouldn't cost the moon and would improve the team in one way or another. The 1st's don't immediately improve the team by any stretch, but in this draft, and with those teams windows, I think all of them could and would be available in the right deal.

The next question here, of course, is what teams here would be interested in pulling a quality for quantity deal? What teams here are in desperate need of some filler for their roster? Which teams here need to either blow it up and hope for a quick reload through a lot of assets, are in cap trouble, or absolutely need to go into win now mode?

From that list of teams, I would say:

Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Florida, LA, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa and Toronto fit one of those descriptions and would at least consider a package.

What would a package of Torres, Smid and Greene look like to Tampa Bay? Does that get you Paul Ranger and their 1st? What about Cogliano, Smid, Schremp and Stoll for Kovalchuk? How much would Pittsburgh part with for Torres and Greene, attempting to replace Malone and Orpik? What about Toronto? What would they give up for a guy like Jarret Stoll, who could inject some much needed heart into that room?

Either way, I think we're looking at something like Lowe is right now. He knows who he'll move, and he knows what he wants, and he should hopefully know what the other teams needs are.... so where's the match here? What combination of the above players gets us what I've listed?

Alex Tanguay to Mike Cammalleri is a downgrade

PDO and I were discussing this last night. I initally thought it was a good move for the Flames. PDO disagreed, and brought up a few good points. He has now convinced me this move is a huge step back for the Flames:

1) Last year, Cammalleri had the 2nd easiest QUAL COMP rating on the Kings, with a -0.04 QUAL COMP Rating. Tanguay had the toughest minutes on the Flames, with a QUAL COMP of +0.07



2) In Cammalleri's best season he put up 80 points, only 43 of those came at even strength.

In Alex Tanguay's worst NHL season in recent memory last year, 45 of his points were on EV.

Cammalleri will help the powerplay, but that may be negligible with the pending loss of Kristian Huselius. It seems Calgary were a better team pre-draft. Losing 8 spots in the first round didn't help the trade evaluation in their favor either.

*Special thanks to PDO for the argument's foundation

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why Joni Pitkanen May Be Traded

Kevin Lowe wasted little time prioritizing and getting a signature from the likes of Tom Gilbert, Robert Nilsson, and Denis Grebeshkov.

On the flip side of the coin are: Joni Pitkanen. Jarrett Stoll. Marc-Antoine Pouliot. Zach Stortini. JF Jacques. 5 assets of the Edmonton Oilers that are vulnerable to an RFA offersheet. The latter three will have minimal interest around the league. With Jarrett Stoll, the compensation may be sufficient. However, Joni Pitkanen’s situation is coming eerily disturbing every counting day he is left unsigned.

Joni Pitkanen has been whispered to be on the market the moment he was traded to the Oilers last July. If there are few sources, you are inclined to dismiss these rumours without second thought. However, when the sea is bursting, you are left with little discretion but to gaze. From NY, to LA, to Carolina, there appears strong interest in obtaining the young Finnish defenseman. Given that Pitkanen wasn’t prioritized at the top of the global urban food chain, and left vulnerable to the RFA offersheet (Team elected arbitration was not applicable), you really wonder how devoted Kevin Lowe is retaining his services.

According to, the compensation for an RFA Offersheet will be:

Amount Compensation Due
$863,156 or less None
$863,156 - $1,307,811 3rd round pick
$1,307,811 - $2,615,623 2nd round pick
$2,615,623 - $3,923,434 1st and 3rd round pick
$3,923,434 - $5,231,246 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick
$5,231,246 - $6,539,061 Two 1st's, one 2nd, one 3rd round pick
$6,539,061 or more Four 1st round picks

The upper end of the bolded category is what I fear. Too much to the extent that it is no longer a value contract in the short term; and too low to the extent that the compensation is insufficient for a young man who was the Oilers best defenceman last season and has Norris-Trophy Potential.

Perhaps Kevin Lowe realizes this. Perhaps he realizes the possibility that negotiating with Joni will not be an effortless task. Perhaps he realizes that he will be put in a very tough position if the offersheet is received at the end of July; too late to dip in the free agent market and find a sufficient value contract, and insufficient compensation levels that will most certainly leave the 2008 Oilers defence corps in an unsightly position. Perhaps Kevin Lowe realizes all of the above.

Which is why, and not necessarily saying I be of the same opinion, believe there is a good possibility that Joni Pitkanen will be traded within the next 15 days.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Did You Know...

Wayne Gretzky received a honorary degree at the University of Alberta in 2000?


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Playoff Predictions Pool - Final Results

Thank you for participating

2 pools here:
1) Round winner
2) Overall Playoffs winner

Overall Standings after 4 of 4 rounds:
LittleFury 140+10=150 (CO-WINNER)
MikeP 110+40=150 (CO-WINNER)
PunjabiOil 140+0=140
doritogrande 100+40=140
JambonDan 130
YKOil 120+0=120
PDO 120+20=120
Jonathan 100+20=120
Paulus 100+10=110
Mr DeBakey 100
jon 70
Oilman 50
Jon G 20

Round 4 Results
doritogrande 40 (CO-WINNER)
MikeW 40 (CO-WINNER)
Jonathan 20
PDO 20
Paulus 10
LittleFury 10
PunjabiOil 0

Round 3 Results:
PunjabiOil 10+20=30 (CO-WINNER)
PDO 10+20=30 (CO-WINNER)
MikeP 10+10=20
LittleFury 10+10=20
DeBakey 10+10=20
Jonathan 10+10=20
Paulus 0+20=20
YKOil 20+0=20
doritogrande 0+0=0

Round 2 Results:
JambonDan 10+20+20=50 (CO-WINNER)
MikeP 10+20+20=50 (CO-WINNER)
PunjabiOil 10+10+20=40
Paulus 20+10=30
doritogrande 10+10+10=30
Jonathan 10+10=20
LittleFury 20
Jon G 20
YKOil 10
PDO 10
DeBakey 0

Round 1 Results:
LittleFury 10+10+20+10+10+20+20=100 (WINNER)
YKOil 10+10+10+20+20+20=90
PDO 10+10+20+20+10+10=80
Mr DeBakey 10+10+10+10+10+10+20=80
JambonDan 10+10+20+10+10+20=80
doritogrande 10+10+20+10+20=70
jon 10+10+10+20+10+10=70
PunjabiOil 10+10+20+10+10+10=70
Jonathan 10+10+10+20+10=60
Paulus 10+20+10+10=50
Oilman 10+10+10+10+10=50
MikeP 10+10+10+10=40

Off-Season Approach

Dan Tencer dos a nice job getting the goods out of Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe,

Some excerpts:


The young bodies also complicate things. Going down the roster, the numbers don't add up. There are too many names for too few spots. "It's a simple mathematical equation at this point," says MacTavish. "There are more players than there are positions. They're all good players so there's going to be good competition barring a multiple player deal."

"We look at it and go ok, who's going to be here, because we've got a lot of bodies. Now it's a matter of me and the organization to do the best to manage the assets and improve the hockey team. If that means potentially getting into a situation where we move three or four assets for one or two coming back, that might be a good thing."

The hints are there, but unlike last year, a more conservative approach to the offseason has been taken



"I want Reasoner back for sure," MacTavish told me matter-of-factly. "He's a valuable member of our team. We'd be remisce in a lot of respects not to bring him back. We're hopeful that we can get him signed."


Kevin Lowe acknowledges Reasoner's value, but doesn't have the same cut-and-dry feeling as his head coach. "I've talked to Marty's agent saying we have interest in bringing Marty back but we also have a lot of bodies right now so we have to see what unfolds in the next weeks and months."

Somewhat conflicting approaches. MacTavish has his favourites, but Marty was terrific in the last half of the year. He was instrumental on the penalty-kill, and played one of the toughest minutes on the Oilers. Lowe probably is juggling on whether there is enough room going forward down the middle:



Of course you can convert some of them on the wing, but there is only so much room. I would personally approach Reasoner with a 2M/2 year take-it-or-leave it offer.


"If his mindset or his agent's mindset is that this is his one kick at really hitting a home run then he's probably going to end up doing it in free agency and not necessarilly with us at this point," Lowe stated.

"It just might work out that he ends up going elsewhere. We certainly have enough bodies here so that's not a concern."

"We like the way he finished the year and we like his enthusiasm. He's a great kid and I think he has upside in his game. But, like I said before, we're piecing a puzzle together and we have higher end guys making more money so we have to find the right number where he can fit into our future and not hurt us in terms of bringing other guys in or retaining other guys."

You have to love this. In all likelihood, Glencross will turn out to be a legitimate NHL player - but every man has a price limit, and every bottom six player is replaceable.

Carefully selected words by Lowe - perhaps to put some heat on the Glencross party.


"If we can add to our team by upgrading our scoring and some of our toughness, we have the assets to do it," says Kevin Lowe.

"We don't have to rely on free agency to do it. That doesn't mean we won't be listening or making calls on July 1st."


"When you look at some of the other teams and their situation and our situation there's going to be some very interesting dialogue between us and a couple or three other teams who are looking to shed some salary cap and add some depth," said MacTavish.

Raffi Torres? Jarrett Stoll, whom the Oilers have been mum regarding a contract extension?


Craig MacTavish would love to have another year to evaluate Pitkanen, though, before making a decision. "I think that's fair," started MacTavish. "We had a real good discussion with him in terms of what our expectation was for him and whether he had the willingness to work and change some of the aspects of his game. We're not talking about fundamental changes in his game; we're talking about subtle changes in his game and playing the game more situationally. It's just managing those decisions of when it makes sense for him to jump up in the play and when it doesn't."

Just a possibility - the Oilers were kicking tires about moving Pitkanen, and didn't like the offers.


"It's a difficult situation for a guy like Dwayne who works so hard and puts so much time into being a number one goalie," says Craig MacTavish. "That discussion will be very important in terms of what our direction is with our goaltending. From my perspective, I'd certainly like to have him back."

Does Kevin Lowe?


"Pressure on an NHL head coach. It's business as usual; we'll all be evaluated based on the success that we have. It's a foregone conclusion that if you don't have success for an extended period of time that you'll be looking for elsewhere. That's part of the job. I've lived with it since the day I signed a contract to coach here in Edmonton and I'll be living with it next year. Business as usual from my perspective."

"We didn't prove anything. We had a nice 20 odd game run and there's lots of optimism but I do know that when the puck drops next October that it's going to be a grind to make the playoffs."

Saying all the right things. Great quotes in the blog entry by Tencer to chew on.

Doesn't it almost seem as if Craig MacTavish is a co-GM these days?

Monday, June 02, 2008

NHL Spring League?

Would this idea work?

The NBA already has it's summer league, in which teams consist of players who have been in the league for 3 years or less as well as newly drafted youngsters.

Would there be enough interest to watch the Bobby Schremp's or Marc-Antoine Pouliot's in July? Or will hockey fans, including Canadians, scoff at the notion and go back to their regularly scheduled baseball and barbeques?

It's an interesting concept put forth by former GM Mike Barnett. Perhaps the league should be limied to 10 teams, with 3 NHL teams sharing a summer league team. Perhaps venues should be limited to non-NHL cities and change annually, to keep the fan interest intact. Lots of possibilies, and in the sake of prospect development, this notion warrants further consideration.