Friday, February 27, 2009

Here comes the rumour mill

A couple of Oilers-realted tidbits this afternoon as we head into the last weekend before the Trade deadline.

TSN's Scott Cullen has this on the Erik Cole saga:

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Oilers aren't going to move RW Erik Cole at the trade deadline. A curious decision, if it's true.

I don't think the Oilers should trade Cole just for the sake of trading him so they don't lose him for nothing. That said, the team has looked lifeless in it's last two outings and if they get the right offer, nothing should be off the table. Which brings me to this:

Even if a deal seems less likely with Florida in playoff position, the Panthers reportedly will consider offers for D Jay Bouwmeester, but would require more than just prospects and picks to make such a deal. The Buffalo News says that the asking price is a top-four defenceman and a veteran forward that can be sold to the Florida fan base (and help the Panthers make the playoffs this season).

There you go. Cole and Souray. Wham, bam thank you ma'am. Souray has been a stalwart this year, a pleasant surprise, but he's getting on in years, has a history of injuries and eating a ton of cap space. Downside: he has a NTC and likes it out west. Failing that, TambLowe could dangle Gilbert or Grebs. Hell, throw in Staios to sweeten the pot. Dare to dream...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jonathan Willis has a post up at Oilers Nation declaring the Oilers must be sellers at the upcoming trade deadline. Willis’s logic is that, since the Oilers would be certain road kill even if they do squeak into the post season, they might as well take the opportunity to dump some contracts and reload for next year. He identifies four players to ship out: Cole, Staios, Moreau and Rob Schremp, as well as a few guys on the bubble (Penner, Nilsson, one of the big names on D). In exchange, the Oilers would get prospects and picks, as well as a third-line centre. In closing, Willis has this to say:
In the big picture, it’s far better to jeopardize a playoff spot now than it is to risk this team’s ability to contend over the next few seasons.
I have a lot of respect for J-Dub, and can see the logic here. The Oilers are a third tier team and would need a miracle just to make it past the opening round. They have a boatload of overpriced contracts that need to go to make way for the raises earmarked for the kids (although, given the declining cap, their performances this year, and barring a major leap forward next year, I have to wonder what kind of raises Ganger, Cogliano et al can reasonably expect to get) and to patch the holes that riddle the lineup. I get it. I do. I believe it.

But I can’t endorse it.

In a race as tight as that in the Western Conference, it’s probably a forgone conclusion that giving up as many as three veteran roster players (even if two of them are kinda shitty) would negatively impact the team chances of making the cut. I actually don’t think the choice between playoffs this year and future success is as stark as Willis makes it out to be and it’s entirely possible that the Oilers could make the moves he suggests and still make the playoffs, though I don’t think it’s that probable (most of the assets Willis puts on the market probably wouldn’t bring that much value back, but that’s a topic for another time.) To me, just making the playoffs this year is a necessary step for two reasons.

Experience. Yeah, it’s unquantifiable, but I can’t see how first hand exposure to playoff hockey wouldn’t be beneficial to the Oilers’ young guns and contribute to the ability to contend over the next few seasons. Of course, it’s hard to say just how much a difference it would make, so I don’t wish to overstate the importance of this factor. No, there’s a much more important reason for the Oilers try to make the postseason this year:

It’s been two fucking years out of the dance and I, the fan, am getting pretty sick of missing out. Now, I’m not your typical Oilers fan with an enormous sense of entitlement: I recognize I’m owed nothing, but all the same it’s hard to stomach putting in an (admittedly ever-diminishing) amount of energy and emotional investment and receiving nothing in return. A playoff appearance, as brief as it would no doubt prove to be, would be a first step to making amends for the last three seasons of futility. Some might say a playoff appearance would actually be a negative thing in that it would serve to shore up the erratic and borderline incompetent bunch behind the bench and in the front office. And I can see that view as well. But I challenge any fan to look me in the eye and tell me that the euphoria of an Oilers win on home ice in the playoffs wouldn’t erase those fears, even if just for a moment. Fandom is essentially an irrational, emotional exercise and while it’s perfectly logical to look after the long term interests and accept pain now in service of a bigger emotional reward down the road, sometimes logic needs to shut the fuck up.

Me want playoff hockey. Period.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Per David Staples:

A source close to Czech hockey ace Jaromir Jagr says that Jagr is close to finalizing negotiations with the Edmonton Oilers, reports Euro-hockey expert Peter Adler.

The source would not say when Jagr would report to Edmonton, how much he would be paid, or how long he would sign for. Jagr is now playing with Omsk in the financially-troubled Kontinental Hockey League.

With news that Lubomir Visnovsky will be out for the season with an injury, the Oilers now have several million dollars free to spend under the salary cap.

I'll believe it when I see it.

UPDATE: Never mind.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Growing pains

Strange things are afoot in Oilerville these days.

Coming off the heels of the now-infamous 10-2 drubbing by the Blackhawks and a listless 2-1 decision to the Music City Maniacs, it was reported that MacT bag-skated Penner, Pouliot and Brodziak. Or maybe he didn't. Depends who you ask. On the interwebs, the natives are getting restless. Jonathan Willis wants MacT's head. Lowetide is frustrated. And over on the boards...well, it hasn't come to bloodshed yet, but that might change with an Oilers loss tonight.

Speaking for myself, I'm on the fence. I've said before that I'm not nearly as invested in this team as I once was, but I've seen plenty of shit efforts this year and they still piss me off. I certainly agree with Tyler's theory that the Oilers' brass seems a helluva lot more concerned with protecting their image than attending to the many issues with the on-ice product.

That product has been wildly inconsistent, often unwatchable and frustrating as fuck. They have one veteran centre, one decent offensive line, a whole whack of kids, a shitload of bloated contracts and a 300 year-old starting goalie. Despite all this, they are also in the midst of the fight for a playoff spot.

So the question is, what to do? Everybody with a brain knows this team wasn't built with this year in mind, but for two, three years down the road. If you look at a lot of the moves this year, even the more puzzling ones make a bit more sense. If there's a time for tinkering and seeing what's worth keeping it's now. That the team has done that and still stayed in the hunt is just gravy.

But history has shown that management can oscillate between "win now" and "build for later" five times in the time it takes Kevin Lowe to wake up, shit, shower, shave and get out the door every morning and a lot will depend on whether they stay the course with the group they have or try to force the issue in response to fan grumbling.

I think they stick to their guns. The team is in the playoff hunt and has improved on last year. Fan grumbling doesn't mean squat until they stop showing up and for every one who bails because they won't be seeing Rob Schremp guzzling Moet out of Lord Stanley's mug, there's another two or three suckers customers to take their place. On the flip side, that kind of complacency and satisfaction with mediocrity in the service of profitability leads to icing a squad with big holes (ie. every K-Lowe team since the lockout) with no guarantee they'll be filled in time.

My hope is they keep their heads above water over the next 15 or so that they can deal some assets for a little help at the deadline and make a real charge for the playoffs. I don't expect much more than a first round defeat, but it'd set the stage for a nice off season. Deal some deadwood (Staios, Moreau), pick up a veteran or two for the bottom six. I don't see a UFA home run happening, which is fine. Ideally, next year's Oilers will be a bit older, a lot wiser and focused on making a run. That's not a heck of a lot to ask, I don't think, and it would certainly make teh growing pains worthwhile.