Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Oilers - Rookie Camp - Yellowknife 2007 - Part 1

First & Foremost

Thanks and recognition to the Oilers rookies, coaches and management for bringing the rookie camp up to Yellowknife.

Greatly appreciated. Greatly enjoyed.

The team was very active in the city the last few days and it was nice to see Oiler blue popping up everywhere I went. A lot of kids got to see their heroes, or at least young replicas of such, and I can tell you truly - heroes are a wonderful thing to have.

The Oilers also took the time to honor Shorty Brown. A local hockey icon and a class act if there ever was one I will try to post something, specifically about him, at another time.

Oh yeah - some of the local refs got to officiate the scrimmages. They didn't call too much but from where I sit: 'Who cares?'. Really. For those guys this must have been like their very own day with the Stanley Cup. Almost brought a tear to me eye it did. Couple of my buddies are hoping it doesn't go to their heads but all agreed - it was pretty freakin' awesome regardless.

This first post will cover the basics while the second post will cover what I actually saw. My main interest will be to watch the practices and the scrimmages. So don't go expectin' no fancy scoutin' reports or nuthin' like that. For what it is worth I will give you my opinion on the players at hand and what I think can be expected of them in the future.

Without further ado,

The Roster

01 - Dubnyk ......... 1st round
13 - Cogliano ....... 1st round
20 - O'Marra ........ 1st round
30 - Fisher ......... 5th round
37 - Contois ........ pro
39 - Rohlfs ......... 5th round
41 - Plante ......... 1st round
42 - Almtorp ........ 4th round
43 - Johansson ...... 9th round
45 - Micflikier ..... pro
47 - Berube ......... amateur
49 - Peckham ........ 3rd round
50 - Pitton ......... 5th round
53 - Stamler ........ amateur
54 - McGinnis ....... amateur
55 - Huxley ......... pro
56 - Chwedoruk ...... pro
57 - McDonald ....... 2nd round
58 - Trukhno ........ 4th round
59 - DePape ......... amateur
60 - Bisaillon ...... signed FA
61 - LeBlanc ........ amateur
65 - Bodie .......... 9th round
66 - Spurgeon ....... 8th round
67 - Kytnar ......... 5th round
68 - Quist .......... 6th round
71 - Foreman ........ amateur
72 - Todd ........... amateur
74 - Pepe ........... amateur
75 - Holden ......... amateur
76 - Young .......... 5th round
79 - Goulet ......... 7th round
80 - Karamnov ....... amateur
81 - Paige .......... amateur
82 - Dobek .......... pro
84 - Paukovich ...... 2nd round
85 - Reddox ......... 4th round
86 - Kronschnabel ... pro


Team Blue

85 Reddox ------- 13 Cogliano ---- 39 Rohlfs
45 MicFlikier --- 67 Kytnar ------ 55 Huxley
81 Paige -------- 84 Paukovich --- 56 Chwedoruk
82 Dobek -------- 43 Johansson --- 71 Foreman

76 Young --- 60 Bisaillon
74 Pepe ---- 53 Stamler
47 Berube

01 Dubnyk

Team White

58 Trukhno --- 20 O'Marra ---- 57 MacDonald
65 Bodie ----- 80 Karamnov --- 68 Quist
79 Goulet ---- 66 Spurgeon --- 86 Kronschnabel
61 Leblanc --- 42 Almtorp ---- 59 DePape
------------------------------ 37 Contois

49 Peckham ---- 41 Plante
54 McGinnis --- 75 Holden
72 Todd

30 Fisher
50 Pitton

Team White has the much better 1st line (Forwards) but Team Blue has a much better 1st pair (Defense).

Players To Watch

Long Look - big names or guys from whom a lot is expected

01 - Dubnyk ......... 1st round
13 - Cogliano ....... 1st round
20 - O'Marra ........ 1st round
57 - McDonald ....... 2nd round
58 - Trukhno ........ 4th round
41 - Plante ......... 1st round

Good Look - second tier names and guys who have shown well in past camps

49 - Peckham ........ 3rd round
42 - Almtorp ........ 4th round
43 - Johansson ...... 9th round
66 - Spurgeon ....... 8th round
76 - Young .......... 5th round
60 - Bisaillon ...... signed FA
84 - Paukovich ...... 2nd round
85 - Reddox ......... 4th round

Peekaboo - the 'get-them-to-camp-and-actually-see-what-they-got' group

67 - Kytnar ......... 5th round
68 - Quist .......... 6th round
80 - Karamnov ....... amateur

The rest of the guys listed are, pretty much, scrubs; there to fill the roster so full scrimmages can be played. Note that some of them are already assigned to certain teams: Stamler (Oil Kings) and Huxley (Springfield) among others.


Again, the second post directly follows this one. Oddly enough the third and final post in this series (the summary) is directly above this one.

Have a great evening everyone.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Oilers - Rookie Camp - Yellowknife 2007 - Part 2

Ah crapola. The math works like so:

One major house reno + one political campaign + one crazy work week + one upcoming vacation (an actual week off!) = one truncated, and (now VERY) late, rookie camp post.


I was there for all 3 days. Typical set-up was to have one-vs-one drills until 10:00am (or so) followed by half-ice line-up drills (forwards vs. defense) until 10:30. After that the ice was cleaned off and the scrimmage would take place.

Day One

Bisaillon - A cut above most of these guys when it comes to skating, passing and puck possession.

Cogliano - Speed advantage is obvious but he didn't do much with it. A lot of solo work in his game but it isn't like Reddox and Rohlfs were giving him much to work with.

Kyntar - Spending a lot of time thinking the game. Not a floater by any means, you just hope he starts to think less and do more at some point.

O'Marra - Like Cogliano you can tell he is more skilled than most here. Also, like Cogliano, he really didn't get anything done today imo. My notes do say he had a good last 5 mins.

Peckham - Strong guy, never saw anyone outmuscle him really (also liked how he stood Kyntar up at the line on one one his shifts). All higher end skills need work (passing, positioning, etc).

Quist - Big Swede has game. Really. Like Kyntar he took a bit to get his bearings but once he did he was fine. Will dish a hit and will take one. Not afraid to shoot but not a puck-hog either. Has a knack for making himself available for a pass without being a floater. Handles the rough stuff well.

Reddox - Invisible all game except for a great shift right near the end of the game.

Spurgeon - Best player on the day. Outstanding hustle. Thoreson's Canadian clone. Opportunistic on offense and first guy back on defense. Great on the boards and buzzes the net. Leads his line. Scored both goals. Everything I hoped O'Marra would be.

Young - Best board control I have ever seen at any level below that of NHL calibre play. Skating was better than I thought it would be and he played a simple, effective game through-out.

Day Two

Almtorp - I think this guy has been winning a LOT of face-offs.

Bisaillon - Laid out some nice hits today. Nice surprise for me given I saw none of that yesterday. Really wiffed one clearing attempt.

Contois - Won't have a big league career but let it be noted here that he works his butt off out there AND he knows when to cut in front of the net (not his own) and make chaos.

Cogliano - Still has the speed and still not doing much BUT he is starting to use what he does have more effectively to my mind. Broke up a couple of plays going the other way (nice to see he knows how to play defense).

Huxley - This guy was hilarious. Had a horrible, HORRIBLE practice but then had a pretty good game and THEN had a GREAT shoot-out goal at the end. He was entertainment writ large all morning.

Kyntar - Began to show better the second day. Being less tentative really does help. Who knew? Nothing else of note to note.

McDonald - Showed some real patience (as opposed to indecisiveness) with the puck in the offensive zone. Took part in a nice 2 on 1 break (with #37) but no one scored.

Karamnov - Showed a nice shot and some great puck control skills. Invisible otherwise.

Peckham - Some nice board work but some guy blew right by him when there is no way he should have so that worries me. Strength needs speed.

Quist - Finishing his hits and I liked that he didn't back down when challenged.

Spurgeon - Continues to impress with his speed and hustle. Has not backed down from anything. Ever. Nice.

Young - Steadiest hand out there by a mile. Has started to general the other players. Guy is oozing leadership.

Day Three

Bisaillon - Love this guys skating. Sweet check of Quist over the boards and into the bench. Some nice puck carrying out of the defensive zone.

Cogliano - Couple of assists but more importantly... I think he won a face-off. Accomplished nothing while on the PP.

Dubnyk - Great stop on Almtorp and a really nice save on a Kronschnabel tip.

Karamnov - Nice little chip-in for one goal but lost another because his wind-up was so overdone he lost the shot altogether. Best flash on the ice though - his passing and puck control skills are obvious.

McDonald - Had one REALLY nice pass out from the sideboards. Showed some hustle, some grit and some brains on the penalty kill. Had a great day.

O'Marra - Some great PK work. Pretty feisty all day.

Quist - Finishing his checks and really starting to make his presence known BUT he also seems to try to play a bit of a floater's game - waiting for loose pucks, etc. The problem is that he should be physical FIRST and then opportunistic. Not the other way around. He just doesn't appear to have the speed, puckhandling or shot for that kind of game.

Reddox - Glad he decided to join us. Scores twice and was buzzing all game.

Spurgeon - Breaks up one play and is first into the offensive zone to follow up. Other team gets it out but Spurgeon is there to break it up again; this time he carries it out himself, drives the net and is stopped by #76 (Young). GREAT sequence of play to watch.

Trukhno - Passes to Almtorp on the breakout... too bad Almtorp was surrounded by opposing players and entire cast of 'Lost' at the time. Bad. Bad. Bad.


I would be remiss if I didn't report that one day there was a lady, just a row down from me, who:

a) had a hell of a rooster tail going on,
b) had passed the 'bad hair' gene onto her kids, and
c) needed to cut those nails of hers 'cuz they made me and the buffalo nervous

Between her and the 'Splooging Oil Zamboni Of Doom' they drove out on the ice at the half-time mark of the scrimmage I was REALLY missing my camera. Cute and fluffy bunny she ain't.


Final notes (a summary of sorts) are posted in part 3.

Have a great evening everyone.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Marc Pouliot

August, it turns out, was an okay month to take a vacation from blogging. Maybe I should have warned ahead of time but I did not so... sorry.

That said,

I was on a vacation in Quebec City a few years ago and, while on said vacation, I discovered a few wonderful truths.

First Wonderful Truth

Quebec women are awesomely, fantastically attractive.

Second Wonderful Truth

Our latest 1st round draft pick, as at that time, would become a very good NHL player.

And so...

Marc-Antoine Pouliot

My friend David, whom I was visiting, took me to a Quebec Remparts game. Before the game he, and his friend Sabas(tien), taught me the two French words I absolutely HAD to know in order to enjoy the evening fully:

"Deux Bleu"

That taken care of we proceeded to watch the game.

The main names on the ice for the Remparts were... well... no one memorable apparently (though I think that Hennessey was on the ice that night). Playing for their opponents, the Rimouski Oceanic, was Marc-Antoine Pouliot and the high-scoring pairing of Crosby and Roussin.

I remember five things from that game:

1. The Remparts goalie played pretty well
2. Roussin wouldn't be a player
3. Crosby was farkin' spectacular and would be a superstar
4. Oceanic powerplay passed the puck around too much
5. Pouliot was the only guy on the ice who could play with Crosby

I have to assume Crosby knew it (point #5) too. Pouliot wasn't a permament fixture on his line yet EVERY time Pouliot hit the ice Crosby reacted to it positively. He would head to open spots to receive a pass he knew would come, he passed the puck to a guy who he knew could receive it and send it back and he would - without hesitation - pass the puck to a guy who he knew wouldn't flub the shot.

Crosby enjoyed playing with Pouliot. Pouliot was/is a player and Crosby knew/knows it.

Now, I could get into the stats like Lowetide does in some of his posts regarding this subject but I will not.

Marc-Antoine Pouliot will be an effective NHL player who should become the equivalent of a poor man's Ron Francis.

He has that talent.

I know.

I saw him good.


I will be posting, soon, on the Oilers Rookie Camp up here in Yellowknife (hence 'YK'Oil). Have a great evening everyone.

Friday, 27 July 2007

The Penner Offer

I have a great many concerns about the Penner offer, most of them having been covered by Lowetide (who is not taking this one well) on his blog. mc79hockey, PunjabiOil, IOF, BDHS and CiO also chime in (links to the right).

I am a little more ambivalent on it. Penner does have potential and does seem a natural fit for a passer like Hemsky. He isn't as good as Torres is defensively BUT he hasn't played as many games either. It is easy to point at Penner's age but his NHL hockey age is still just one.

The Penner offer is fraught with peril imo but the pay-off could be astounding. My hope is that he either

a) hits expectations or
b) is unloaded in a timely fashion should he development stall.

A big, BIG guy who is a force at the net or on the boards and who is a shooter first, last and always


A plodder who glomed off of a true 1st line talent in Getzlaf and PP pointmen like Neidermayer and Pronger

Oh just WHAT will he be when he grows up?

One thing though. And I will not say it again. Anyone who thinks this was just a grand plan by Lowe to force Burke's hand and cause Anaheim budget and Cap troubles isn't being rational.

To be more blunt about it: shut the f%^k up.


A 1st / 2nd / 3rd offer sheet has a pay range of $3,515,645 to $4,687,527.

Anaheim currently sits at $48.80 million in committed Cap salary with 21 players on the payroll. That is 12 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goalies. Selanne and Penner are not included in those numbers but Ryan is.

With the Cap at $50.3 million a quick look at the Ducks roster reveals that the team has the following flex:

~ 0.60 in easy dump (Bryzgalov)*
~ 0.60 in easy wire (May or Parros)
~ 6.75 in retirement limbo (Neidermayer)**

* Hillier has a big signing bonus so Burke would have to send him down and get a 600k man to play back-up. ** Selanne isn't counted in the $48.80 so I don't count him in the above.

Other than Neidermayer's contract Anaheim doesn't have a lot of flex to play with. Most of their players are priced appropriately to, or even outperforming, their contracts. Many are critical to team success and a few would be hard to trade regardless (Bertuzzi).

The Math

500k represents ~ 1% of the Cap. It also represents:

~ 33% of Anaheim's immediately available Cap space, and
~ 20% of Anaheim's easy flex

Ergo 500k, to the Ducks, is a LOT of money. Neidermayer being the wildcard.

Ryan's contract will cost the team ~ $2.2 million in Cap.

Kevin Lowe

So we know two things:

1. Lowe wants to sign Penner and he thinks he is worth $4.3 mill /yr,
2. Lowe was bidding against himself.

Look at the numbers again. No way was Penner going to get any real money out of Anaheim. They couldn't afford it. Burke is practically banking on Neidermayer retiring - he can't afford to keep the team together otherwise.

Look at the numbers again. Lowe had a $1.15 million spread to work with and he went 800k above the minimum - a minimum that Penner would not have seen from Burke. At least not this year. Lowe was, to say it again, bidding against himself.

Look at the numbers again. If Lowe had wanted to whip out his Sword of Damocles and begin busting Burke with it his best bet would have been to get Penner to sign at $3.8 million. At 3.8 Burke can keep Ryan in the minors and work flex to keep Penner.

i.e. At $3.8 Lowe makes Burke sweat as the 'right' decision isn't also the obvious one.

At $4.3 Penner makes more than Hemsky. I will leave that right there. On a secondary point, it is also more than Anaheim can afford sans knowledge of Neidermayer's plans. Look for Burke, and quite rightly so, to not match the offer.

Best of All Worlds and Finale

The best contract for Penner would have been at the top-end of the next band down ($2,343,764 - $3,515,645 for a 1st and 3rd round pick). The contract would have been heavily front-loaded and looked like this:

6.5 / 3.5 / 2.5 / 2.0 / 3.0

At $3.5 million it is still a tough pill for Burke to swallow as Getzlaf and Perry are due next year and Cap space will be at a premium for this team for the next few years.

Meanwhile Lowe keeps the 2nd round pick and protects himself in the last 3 years of the deal (as Penner would be easy to unload to a small budget team that has the Cap room but not the money).

A win-win deal for Lowe all-around.

At $4.3 million however... the risk is ALL on Lowe. And that is the problem

This contract offer does not represent Lowe at his finest. He paid high for a player who would have been lucky to break $5 million as an UFA and committed long to a guy with one season played and no obvious superstar skill sets.

In his last RFA season Penner would have been lucky to get $2.0 million out of Burke on a one-year deal and I can't see Burke breaking either the $4 million or the 3 year barrier on a longer term deal. Burke holds onto his wallet hard.

Much like the Souray signing Lowe failed to manage his risk. Penner has to be the real deal for this contract to represent value. He has to. Otherwise Lowe:

-- failed to get a good, risk managed, contract, and
-- failed to impair Anaheim's ability to manage its Cap, and
-- failed to hurt Anaheim by taking a key player, and
-- failed to keep a good draft pick in a deep draft, and
-- succeeded in overpaying a mediocre hockey player


Here's hoping Burke matches the offer or that Penner really is the next Bertuzzi. Otherwise we's in trouble.

Heh. I started this post as kind-of ambivalent about it all... oh well... at the least I can appreciate watching Lowe play the role of RFA spoiler.


Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

NHL Expansion Drafts

The Rules (Yr. 2000)

Columbus & Minnesota alternating picks.

Teams could protect: 9 forwards / 5 defensemen / 1 goaltender or 7 forwards / 3 defensemen / 2 goaltenders.

-- IF protecting only one goaltender there was no experience requirement for those left unprotected.

-- IF protecting two goaltenders, each goaltender left unprotected must have appeared in 10 NHL games that preceding season or 25 games over the last two preceding seasons. An 'appearance' required at least 31 minutes of playing time.

-- A team had to leave, unprotected, at least one defenseman who had played in 40 games in the preceding season or 70 games over the last two preceding seasons.
-- A team had to leave, unprotected, at least two forwards who had played in 40 games in the preceding season or 70 games over the last two preceding seasons.

-- Only one goaltender or one defensemen could be selected from each franchise.

-- Exempt from the Expansion Draft are (i) all first and second-year pros and (ii) unsigned draft choices (excepting certain unsigned European draftees).

Today (End of 2007/08 Season)

A sample protected list for the Edmonton Oilers

9 Forwards

Horcoff, Stoll, Pouliot, Torres, Moreau, Nilsson, Hemsky, Pisani, Jacques/Stortini/Thoreson

5 Defensemen

Souray, Staios, Pitkanen, Smid, Greene/Grebeshkov/Gilbert

1 Goaltender


Assuming the Oilers had the foresight to sign Reasoner to a cheap extension and keep Gilbert from passing the 70 game barrier the available players list would look like so:

(F) Reasoner and two of Jacques/Stortini/Thoreson

(D) One of Greene/Grebeshkov

(G) One of Roloson/Garon

Not a killer set of losses. The only real danger is on defense where, if Greene and Grebeshkov have good seasons, the loss would sting. The predictable losses would be:

Jacques or Thoreson and Grebeshkov

Kind of easy to see that shortening the protected list would make a huge difference: 8 forwards, 4 defensemen and 1 goaltender would make a big difference in terms of the overall talent available.

The Lucky Team(s)

As with other expansion drafts it is certain that the successful suitors will be getting a whole lot of dreck. I didn't go through and do the work but a quick scan tells me the Oilers actually have one of the better lists of talent from which to pick.

The toys billionaires will spend hundreds of millions to get.

Should of got batteries.

In 2000 the Oilers lost Bert Robertsson and Jim Dowd to expansion. In hindsight, losing Dowd hurt the Oilers as he was a great 3rd/4th line guy who was pressed into 1st line service in Minnesota and didnt embarrass himself.

Losing Thoreson and Grebeshkov would probably hurt more. Grebs will be a player.

Notables lost in the 2000 expansion draft include: Schneider, Roloson, O'Donnell, Odelein, Sanderson, Wright, Drake

Why This Post?

The writing is on the wall - in the next year or four the league will expand by another two teams. I merely wanted to provide a setting for future posts. July, dog days of summer and all that.


Have a great evening everyone.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

I'm Not Souray At All! (The Souray Continuum Part 3)

The third of three posts delving into the negative, the obvious and the positive aspects of the Souray signing. So...

The Positives

1. First and foremost, he signed. Like him or not Souray was considered one of the better UFA's on the market. Like it or not Edmonton was not considered one of the better UFA destinations in the market.

Always good to break with conventional prejudice.

2. Souray is a good veteran. By most accounts he is good in the dressing room, is professional in his conduct and he seems to be happy to be coming to Edmonton. All good things. Losing Smyth and Smith drops a lot of leadership out of the Oilers dressing room - Souray will help with that.

Souray should work well into the team.

3. Souray has some verifiable skills. He is good (and can be great) on the PP, steady and effective on the PK and is capable of playing it very, very tough. While he is situational, because he lacks a good transition game, he should be very useful to Huddy and Simpson.

His work on the PP will define him and may well determine the future of our season.

4. Souray's piss-poor EV results can partially be tied to the guys he played with and the apparent fact that they, as a group, were playing opposition that they were incapable of matching. This means that his EV results are fixable.

Fixable is good. Here's hoping Souray is okay with being fixed. Unless of course they don't fix him. In which case we're screwed.

5. Souray may not be tradeable but at least we now have depth in regards to having offensive-minded defensemen on the team. The Oilers can show a lot of different looks now and I wouldn't be surprised to see Tarnstrom getting traded at the deadline.

Being able to afford to trade someone without creating a hole at that spot is good.

6. Souray is, apparently, an orgasm on skates. This should really help with with the sale of the 'help-us-build-a-new-building-because-charity-starts-with-us' cheesecake calendar. Some benefits aren't always that obvious early on but the girls at Hot Oil are capable of seeing things I do not.

Eyes on the prize everyone. Eyes on the prize.


So those points, in general, are the positive aspects to the signing. I am a firm believer that this contract can work to our benefit. Improve Souray's EV game, keep all of his PK game and retain 80% of the improvement in his PP game and we have a winner.

No pressure.

I may not be happy... but neither am I all mad or sad or bad or nad... and I will assume those are good things and I will also assume that I can have a reasonable expectation of more good things.


Have a great evening everyone.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Just What Does Being Souray Mean? (The Souray Continuum Part 2)

The first post (here) dealt with the negative aspects of the Souray signing. This post will deal with the obvious aspects of the signing. This will mean, mostly, that this post will be about stats.

Btw, I won't be getting fancy here. The stats I am using come from established sources. I will only be providing some analysis.

The Statistics

2006/07 ... +/- of -28

TOI . 1,878 min .. 23.11 /gm . 4.52 PP . 3.01 SH . 15.58 EV
.... NHL rank ....... 40 ....... 48 ..... 141

PTS ... 81 gms ... 224 sht ... 11.6% ... 26 g / 38 a / 64 p
.. 3rd highest point score for dmen
.. PP ....... 19 g (2) .. 29 a (9) . 48 (5) - of all NHL
.. EV/SH ..... 7 g ....... 9 a ..... 16 - not worth it

-1.51 = EV +/- On Ice
-0.23 = EV +/- Off Ice
-1.28 = EV +/- Overall (#619 of 676 / 0 pt. at rank 319)

+8.20 = PP +/- (#9 of 428)
-3.10 = SH +/- (#66 of 395) - note Pisani #64 / Markov #61

+0.016 = Quality of Comp. (#299 of 676 / 0 pt. at 400)
-0.100 = Quality of Team. (#505 of 676 / 0 pt. at 338)

2005/06 ... +/- of -11

TOI . 1,669 min .. 22.14 /gm . 4.23 PP . 3.34 SH . 14.57 EV
.... NHL rank ....... 57 ...... 147 ..... 131

PTS ... 75 gms ... 202 sht ... 5.9% ... 12 g / 27 a / 39 p
.. 31st highest point score for dmen
.. PP ......... 7 g (132) . 14 a (120) . 21 (133) - all NHL
.. EV/SH ...... 5 g ....... 13 a ....... 18 - not worth it

The raw counting numbers presented are drawn from while the EV work is, obviously, from The Great Desjardins! site. I wish I could add the 2005/06 Desjardin numbers to this work but c'est la vie.

Note that I added raw, and very rudimentary, ranking numbers in some categories. A more serious review would run the basic median and mean numbers as well as do some more stats work but the raw rankings provide most of the context I wanted so I stuck with that.


Souray plays a lot of minutes. A quick review of the TOI stats from the NHL reveal that the kinds of minutes he plays aren't remarkable for anyone considered a top-pairing d-man. Most of guys in the top-60 have multiple minutes played PP and PK.

The only conclusions that I can draw from this information is that he is capable of playing a lot of minutes and that he isn't a specialist. How effectively he plays those minutes is what will matter.

Power Play

In 2005/06 Souray was a pretty decent PP performer. In 2006/07 he became a god. 3 of the members of his PP unit place in the top-10 PP +/- spots using Desjardins numbers while 2 of them are top-10 in PP scoring (the counting numbers).

Note that from year-to-year he only gained 30 seconds in PP icetime per game. An extra 30 seconds doesn't explain the incredible jump in performance. His numbers more than doubled year-to-year.
Even if one assumes all other hypothetical factors:

-- he was healthier than ever before
-- he finally 'really-figured-it-out' as a player
-- the team fed the PP offense entirely through him
-- the PP unit had incredible player chemistry
-- etc.

come into play - it still remains an outlier of a season. His numbers were just that good. Gonchar also scored 48 pts on the PP but he played an extra 2.30 a game on the PP (an increase of 50%)... and he played with Sydney Crosby.

The only conclusions that I can draw from this information is that it is an outlier year and that if Montreal fed the offense through Souray then so should the Oilers. One doesn't f*&k up perfection. How skewed the outlier is, is what will matter.

Penalty Kill

Per the NHL numbers we know that Souray is pretty consistent year-to-year in regards to his time spent playing short-handed. he can handle 3+ minutes a game without issue.

Per the Desjardins numbers we find that he is also a fairly efficient PK performer. Coming in at the #66 spot, close to players as well-regarded as Pisani and Markov, is no mean feat.

The only conclusions I can draw from this information is that Souray is a good PK performer and that it is probably the most consistent part of his game. How important his PK partner was is what will matter.

Even Strength

Souray's EV time played is consistent and significant. First thing to note is that at 15+ minutes a night at EV he isn't producing the points he should be. His rankings were so far down, even when adjusted to look for d-men only, that they weren't worth ranking.

So then, if he isn't scoring he should be preventing. Big EV minutes like that can't be hidden very easily. Normally those kinds of minutes are reserved for rookies and for players who just aren't that good. Souray wasn't playing all butter minutes.

Lo and behold his Quality of Competition number bolsters that arguement. His Desjardins number may not be great, but it isn't a disaster either - he was playing some decent opposition. Even if the standard deviation spreads are wide he will be nearer the good than the bad.

Odds are good that if I sifted through his shift charts I would find that he played 25-35% of his time against solid-to-good opposition.

That is what makes his EV +/- so interesting. He was getting killed out there.


I can't provide an absolute answer but the Quality of Teammate number does provide a clue: he just wasn't playing with anyone that good at EV play.

Souray played most of his minutes with Rivet, Ryder, Koivu and Kovalev. A murderer's row of EV +/- if there ever was one. The only guy on that list that even aspires to be decent defensively is Rivet and thinking he alone can power that boat is insane.

Assuming that Rivet was meant to be the defensive anchor (in the good sense) for Souray makes sense if the forwards are also, even somewhat, defensively sound. But that isn't the case here. Since Souray alone can't have sunk that line it must have been a collective effort.

And it appears it was. Every member of that Fab-5 sucked at EV play last year. Just liked they should have. Note these words: Carbonneau should have known better. Souray just isn't good enough at EV outscoring to help an offense-only line.

His EV scoring numbers do not justify the ice-time he was getting with those players and all-together those players cannot justify the ice-time they were getting against semi-solid competition. Can't blame it all on Carbonneau however, his top-line isn't good enough to go power-vs-power and he doesn't have the 3rd line stoppers that can allow his best to play the other guy's worst.

The only conclusions that I can draw from this information is that Souray is mis-cast per his PP results and is getting EV minutes he shouldn't be. How he gets his time allotted in the EV role is what will matter.

Final Notes

From what I have looked at Souray should be playing:

-- 1st unit PP for some 4.5 to 6.0 mins a game,
-- 2nd unit PK for some 3.0 to 4.0 mins a game, and
-- 2nd or 3rd pair EV for some 9.5 - 12.0 mins a game
-- 19.0 to 20.0 mins a game overall

His stats seem to support the anecdotal/observational evidence about him:

-- first: that he isn't that fast, not a great lateral step, doesn't have great puck control and isn't a great passer - i.e. not a great transition game guy
-- second: that he is good to great when he isn't required to have those qualities - i.e. put him in a 'set-up' situation and he is good to go

It explains why he is good on the PP (set-up the big shot) and why he is good on the PK (set-up to protect the crease) and why he can get his ass handed to him at EV.

The biggest mistake to be made here is to think that his PP effectiveness can carry forward to his EV effectiveness - this mistake should not be made by the Oilers.

Or by himself.

Remember Peca? When he embraced the 3rd line shut-down role he was GOLD. When he tried to play 2nd line point producer he took his whole line down with him.

Just because Souray is paid 1st pair dollars it doesn't mean he is a 1st pair defender. The sooner he, and the team, recognize that the better off we all shall be.

I hope this has been informative. For better or worse.


Have a great evening everyone.

Honey, I Admit I Made a Mistake. I'm Souray. - (The Souray Continuum Part 1)

Heh. Go away for a few days, work some overtime, entertain the inlaws, have a mild case of computer game addiction and... well... that'll teach me.

Lowe signed Souray to $27 million / 5 yr deal today. The Cap hit is $5.4 mill /yr and it breaks down into something like 6.5 / 6.5 / 5.5 / 4.5 / 4.0.

In a series of three posts I will delve into the negative, the obvious and the positive aspects of this. First...

The Negatives

1. Smyth could have been signed for $5.5 mill / 5 yrs. As much as this signing may help redeem Lowe it also serves to hi-lite the biggest managerial screw-up of his entire career. And that is saying something given the return garnered from the Pronger trade.

Smyth > Souray.

2. Staios is the only Oiler defenseman who is an established EV player. For a defense that needed to replace Smith in the worst way the Souray signing only amplifies the team's new inability to ice a team that will be competitive EV.

Souray is borderline Lupul at EV.

3a. If one surmises that his lack of footspeed and mobility will impair his game as he ages then the deal is too long. Something like a 3 year deal at 7.5 / 4.5 / 4.5 makes a lot more sense. Slightly higher Cap hit and more budget dollars the first year but fewer years committed.

3b. If one surmises that his great special teams play doesn't require footspeed and mobility then the deal is too short. Maybe a 6 yr deal at 7.5 / 7.5 / 4.5 / 4.0 / 3.5 / 3.0 makes sense. An extra year and more money the first 2 years but the Cap hit is less (400k) and he is easier to dump in trade.

Priced as he is (after a career year... natch), he cannot fail. A drop in production greater than 10-20% kills his value. There are no 'outs' in the contract as priced.

4a. Souray averages 22+ minutes of playing time a game. Of that ~ 15 minutes are played at EV where we know he is just NOT that good a player. He is, however, awesome on the PP and quite good on the PK. Cutting his EV TOI down to 11-12 minutes a game can only be viewed as a demotion.

4b. We know that Souray played a lot with Rivet and, at least while on the PP, a lot with Markov. Rivet is a reasonable facsimile of a defensive defenseman. All of Andrei Markov's numbers point to him as being the real deal. Very good at both EV and special teams play. Wherefore Souray?

What is good for the team may not be received well by him and genuine question marks exist in regards to: "who drove the play?". GM's, generally, shouldn't sign question marks to big UFA contracts.

5. When a team has several holes to fill, lots of Cap space and a fair (but not overwhelming) amount of budget space with which to play one might expect that the last thing they would do is blow most of it on a single, questionable, choice. The team still needs a quality LW and a d-man who can play defense.

When players like Mike Johnson and Danny Markov are available, and combined they cost LESS than a guy like Souray, while providing more dependable play, I have to consider the gaping holes on the wing a negative.

6. The nice thing about UFA's, especially ones that have been ripening a while, is that they can be signed to short-term deals and are then available for trade at the deadline. Not explicitly noted above - this isn't a tradeable contract.

He is ours now. Yay.


So those points, in general, are the negative aspects to the signing. A questionable contract for a player with some big question marks surrounding his game.


I sure as hell hope I am happier after the 'positive' segment of this series.


Have a great evening everyone.

Monday, 2 July 2007

NHL Off-Season (2007) - End of Day 2

Well, I never did get to finishing up my UFA lists (Left & Right Wings) so my apologies for that. Pickings there were slim regardless however so I don't feel too bad about it.

So where Did We Start?

Edmonton walked into the bidding wars needing 2 solid defensemen to add to Smith & Staios, 1 solid LW to slot ahead of Torres and Moreau and a veteran back-up goaltender. Of the 2 defensemen needed, one of them HAD to be a decent puck-mover who could play on the PP.

The line-up going in looked like so:

Veteran LW .... Horcoff ..... Hemsky
Torres* ....... Stoll ....... Lupul
Moreau ........ Pouliot ..... Pisani
Nilsson ....... Reasoner .... Thoreson
Stortini / JFJ

Veteran D ..... Smith
Grebeshkov* ... Staios
Veteran D ..... Smid

Roloson / Veteran BU

This line-up represents the minimum needed for the Oilers to have a semblance of being a play-off bound team.

With the budget estimated at $45 million we know that Cap doesn't matter. The back-up can be any $550k goalie so in terms of dollars we have:

~ $31.62 for the signed players +

~ $ 2.00 for Torres +
~ $ 1.50 for Grebs +
~ $ 1.20 for Greene +
~ $ 0.55 for a back-up goalie

= $36.87 million

Ergo, entering the UFA bidding wars the team had ~ $8.13 million to spend.

So What Have We Done?

From the UFA pool we did manage to sign Tarnstrom (for ~ $2 mill per the Swedish press) and so took care of one of the veteran defensemen requirements. As a guy who can man the PP he represents a two-for.

From the trade pages Lowe pulls this deal: Smith & Lupul FOR Sanderson, Pitkanen & a (2009) 3rd round pick. Sanderson isn't a 1st line LW so he bumps Torres and Moreau up, Pitkanen is a solid puck-mover but he will need a baby-sitter (a Smith-type ironically enough) and RW is now short a player.

Torres* ....... Horcoff ..... Hemsky
Moreau ........ Stoll ....... Veteran RW
Sanderson ..... Pouliot ..... Pisani
Nilsson ....... Reasoner .... Thoreson
Stortini / JFJ

Pitkanen* ..... Veteran D
Tarnstrom ..... Staios
Grebeshkov* ... Veteran D

Roloson / Veteran BU

If we assume that Pitkanen will get the same money as Lupul had remaining on his contract then the new number, per salary committments, is ~ $38.39 million. That leaves $6.61 million to spend.

So How Have We Done?

Long-term we are in better shape as Pitkanen is a big upgrade on talent level. Short-term we have a slightly better LW situation and, probably a better RW situation (Lupul was so bad that this is addition by subtraction).

The problem now is a lack of scoring off the wings and a need for defensive-minded defensemen. Not one of our wingers is a sniper or an 'in-close' scorer and our defense is rife with guys who need baby-sitting. Staios is the only proven defender of the bunch.

The BAD news: Hannan, Sarich and most of the decent all-arounds are off the list.

The GOOD news: Defensive defensemen tend to be cheaper than their offensive counter-parts.

So Where Can We Go From Here?

With ~ $6 million we do have the dollars to spend. With 3 spots to fill it means we are shopping from the bargain bins to fill 2 of those spots. Note that getting a RW is only one option - the team could probably get the same mileage out of getting a decent LW and seeing if Sanderson can play RW.

Worthy players left include (listed in groups by personal preference):

The Wing-men
-- Johnson (RW), Gelinas (LW), Ekman (RW)

The 'Defense-First' Defensemen
-- Markov (D), Lukowich, Hejda, Pratt, Miller

The 'All-Around' Defensemen
-- Tanabe, Tjarnqvist, Eriksson, Sopel

Wow. You can see where the loss of Smyth hurts so much. Quality wingers are hard to find.

There are two there worth getting and then a couple of responsible-play fillers. The Oilers could also try to sign another center and hope he can alsoplay wing (a la Sykora).

The defense is a different story. Lots of quality left there. The perfect signings would probably Markov and Hejda. Another grey-hair to help Staios out and a guy who surprised us all last year with how good he actually was. If Lowe only gets one I hope it is Markov - we need the veteran play.

So What Do You Want To Happen?

At a minimum I want the Oilers to spend some money on solidifying the line-up. Getting Markov at $2.5 mill, Johnson at $1.80 and Lukowich/Heja/Pratt at $1.2 mill adds up to $5.5 million. This is actually LESS than the budget allows but the team would be one that:

-- could sneak into the play-offs, and
-- has assets for trade if injuries derail the season

The other option is to make a trade for a big money guy... but I don't see where that will happen. Teams like Colorado, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and the New York Rangers made them selves ready for this off-season. They won't need to unload salary for a while.

Also, picking up a guy like Redden is all well and fine IF he signs an extension. In the case of a guy like Redden this team is actually better off waiting for him to become an UFA. A lot of teams blew their wad this off-season and so there will be fewer teams bidding on players like that next off-season.

Nope. The best plan is to pick up quality depth via free agency. The team is less vulnerable to dramatic collapses, there are assets available for trade at the deadline and there are assets available for trades - you know - like ones where you pick up a guy like Pitkanen.

Think about that for a second - if Smith and Staios are the only veteran d-men we have under contract, who else would teams want if they want a veteran d-man back in trade?

So What Should We Be Wary Of?

If Lowe only signs one more player this off-season, unless that player is something special, the next season is a write-off.


Have a great evening everyone.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

2006-07 Off-Season UFA's (Part Three - Centers) - A

The third in a series of posts on the UFA market that will hit this coming off-season. The first post was all about goalie's and the second was all about defensemen. My latest update to those posts is here.

Convential wisdom has it that building a team starts from the net out. All else being equal it is better to have a good goalie than it is to have a good defensemen than it is to have a good center than it is to have a good winger. Funny then that marquee centers have traditionally received more pay and press than most goalie's or defensemen.

Easy call really. The top-scorer on a team is almost always a forward and the center on a line tends to direct the play. Goalie's and defensemen might have a greater impact on wins and losses but for the vast majority of fans out there it is the center who sells the tickets.


Age .. .$$ .. avg toi .. pp .. sh/gm

32 .. 5.75 .. 18.17 .. 4.07 .. _.10 .. Peter Forsberg
29 .. 3.08 .. 18.46 .. 4.25 .. 2.56 .. Chris Drury
29 .. 2.13 .. 20.59 .. 5.13 .. 3.02 .. Michal Handzus
28 .. 5.00 .. 19.18 .. 4.45 .. _.18 .. Daniel Briere
26 .. 5.00 .. 18.55 .. 4.28 .. _.02 .. Scott Gomez
32 .. 7.42 .. 17.04 .. 3.33 .. _.24 .. Alexei Yashin

36 .. 0.80 .. 12.20 .. 1.56 .. 1.34 .. Trevor Linden
34 .. 1.98 .. 17.59 .. 3.15 .. 2.08 .. Bryan Smolinski
33 .. 1.63 .. 19.07 .. 3.09 .. 3.06 .. Josef Stumpel
31 .. 1.48 .. 17.13 .. 2.27 .. 2.35 .. Todd White
31 .. 0.87 .. 16.24 .. 2.06 .. 1.24 .. Viktor Kozlov
28 .. 1.30 .. 16.14 .. 2.34 .. 1.58 .. Eric Belanger

35 .. 3.80 .. 16.49 .. 3.34 .. _.06 .. Robert Lang
33 .. 2.50 .. 14.39 .. 3.34 .. _.02 .. Eric Lindros
32 .. 0.50 .. 12.05 .. 2.17 .. _.14 .. Glen Metropolit
30 .. 0.60 .. 14.08 .. 1.39 .. _.24 .. Randy Robitaille
29 .. 2.90 .. 16.39 .. 4.37 .. _.04 .. Petr Sykora
28 .. 2.85 .. 12.30 .. 1.47 .. _.31 .. Mike York

36 .. 1.44 .. 14.53 .. _.10 .. 2.05 .. Wes Walz
32 .. 2.50 .. 17.24 .. _.24 .. 4.17 .. Michael Peca
31 .. 0.73 .. 10.55 .. _.24 .. 1.49 .. Kevyn Adams
31 .. 0.53 .. 12.32 .. _.08 .. 3.14 .. Scott Nichol
30 .. 2.39 .. 15.52 .. _.28 .. 2.57 .. Radek Bonk
30 .. 1.13 .. 13.32 .. _.51 .. 2.29 .. Wayne Primeau
30 .. 0.95 .. __.__ .. _.__ .. _.__ .. Jason Wiemer (inj.)

25 .. 3.00 .. 15.14 .. 3.22 .. _.19 .. Mike Comrie
25 .. 0.90 .. 12.12 .. _.08 .. 1.19 .. Patrick Stefan
25 .. 1.15 .. 13.23 .. _.53 .. _.31 .. Josef Vasicek

37 .. 0.45 .. _8.17 .. _.04 .. 1.51 .. Jim Dowd
36 .. 1.50 .. 13.53 .. 2.01 .. 1.09 .. Jeremy Roenick
35 .. 0.70 .. 15.33 .. 3.15 .. _.24 .. Yanic Perreault
35 .. 0.50 .. _8.53 .. _._5 .. 2.59 .. Travis Green
34 .. 1.52 .. _9.53 .. _.20 .. 1.38 .. Mike Ricci

29 .. 0.50 .. _9.30 .. _.12 .. _.02 .. Wyatt Smith
29 .. 0.45 .. _9.27 .. _.07 .. _.01 .. Eric Rasmussen
29 .. 0.45 .. _9.46 .. _.15 .. 1.06 .. Byron Ritchie
29 .. 0.45 .. 10.46 .. 1.55 .. _.__ .. Mark Hartigan
28 .. 0.70 .. 10.24 .. _.51 .. _.41 .. Mark Smith
28 .. 0.48 .. 12.55 .. 3.21 .. _.02 .. Jeff Hamilton
27 .. 0.63 .. 13.46 .. _.51 .. 2.56 .. Mikael Holmqvist
27 .. 0.75 .. 13.37 .. 1.06 .. _.48 .. Brett MacLean
27 .. 0.68 .. _7.33 .. _.04 .. _.02 .. Adam Mair
27 .. 0.45 .. 13.40 .. 1.21 .. 1.57 .. Toby Peterson
27 .. 0.45 .. _7.22 .. _.16 .. _.02 .. Tommi Santala

Group A: the 'name' players

This is an interesting category. Forsberg and Handzus have health issues, Briere and Gomez are offensive dynamo's who don't play much defense and Yashin will put up the points without a care in world (which IS the problem). Drury lacks the big numbers but is the better all-around player.

If Forsberg plays it will be in Philly or Colorado so look for him to be in Philly at $4.8 mill /yr (one year). Briere and Gomez are proven point producers and could end up anywhere so look for them to sign 4 or 5 yr deals in the $6.5 mill /yr range.

Handzus will cash in on his 'potential' (big guy who can play) yet again and will garner a $4.0 mill /yr payday while Yashin will get signed late August by some team that needs some offense ($3.5 mill /yr for one year).

The wildcard is Drury. Great leadership and 'clutch-player' rep will get him a payday a la Briere and Gomez but the question becomes - where? I will, actually, be disappointed if San Jose doesn't make a play for him. Signing Drury and trading Marleau for the pieces they need is the smart move.

Group B: the 'all-around good guys' group

Not the 1st-line ES, PP of PK but they can do it all and are often first over the boards for the 2nd-line PP or PK teams. It may be because they really are good at everything (a guy like Linden has years of veteran savvy to fall back on) or it may be because the team is undermanned (Stumpel is THAT good on the PK?) so do your research and make your call accordingly.

Linden will retire in Vancouver so look for a retirement contract for him (2 yrs at < $1 mill /yr). Smolinski is a guy who is good enough to be wanted by teams but not so good that they keep him, look for him to sign for a couple of years at $2 to 2.5 mill /yr. Florida likes Stumpel and Stumpel likes Florida; he'll get 3 years at $1.8 - 2.2 mill /yr.

After years of working his tail off White will finally get land a paycheque that fits his tweener status (better than 3rd line but not quite 2nd line); he'll want 3 or 4 years at $1.8 mill /yr or 2 years at $2 mill /yr. Belanger's numbers improved in Atlanta so he may get a slight bump into the $1.5 mill /yr range (expect a 2 year deal).

Kozlov is the wildcard of the group. Is he finally putting it all together? He had a good year last year and that may just land him a bigger contract. Look for a 3 year deal in $1.2 to 1.5 mill /yr range. I think he would like to go to a team that wants him - I do not know if that is New York.

Group C: the 'friends of the power-play' group

Players who, for better or for worse, aren't known for how they play defense. They tend to get lots of power-play time and some of them even earn it. The wildcard in the group is Lindros. His injury history is scary and he has changed his play because of it BUT he can still play the game pretty well. He will sign where he can, probably short-term, and get some $2 mill /yr for his troubles.

Lang and Sykora are more consistent than most but neither one is a 'core' kind of guy. I expect both to take pay-cuts. Sykora will probably stay in Edmonton the next 2 years for $2.8 mill /yr while Lang will get a chance to see more of the USA; also a 2 year deal and this one pegged at $2.5 to $3.25 mill /yr.

Metropolit, Robitaille and York represent the bottom end of this group. They will be paid accordingly. The first two will sign anywhere that needs a center who can work a 2nd power-play unit and they will be happy to make 700k to 800k a year doing it. York, after a dismal season is kind of in the same boat. His good years in Edmonton will get him a 2 year deal somewhere making $1.2 - 1.6 mill /yr.

Group D: the 'what's a power-play?' group

Players who, for better or worse, never see PP time because they are too busy being relied upon to play well defensively or because they wouldn't be any good on the PP regardless and SOMEONE has to play 2nd unit minutes on the PK. If Wiemer can ever play again (I never looked it up) he will get short-term 'see-if-he-can-play-again' deal for 550 - 700k /yr.

Peca is the big name and if healthy he is a legit difference maker. His big payday days are long gone but expect the Leafs or Islanders to give him a multi-year deal that averages $2.2 mill /yr or so. Walz is the elder statesman of the group and he will go to a team that needs a veteran like him who can play. Expect a 2 year retirement deal at $1.2 mill /yr or so.

Bonk has turned himself into a legit, top-end, defensive forward. I see him taking a pay-cut but it shouldn't be much of one - he'll go to anyone who pays him and I expect it will be 3 years at $2.2 mill /yr. Primeau is the very definition of generic 3rd line defensive forward. Given the lack of quality depth in the NHL a 2 year deal awaits him, somewhere, for $1.2 mill /yr.

Nichol and Adams are the guys who are kicking around because they can play better than the current rookie de jour and thus will hurt the team less in tight games. Look for Nichol to get a slight bump in pay to 650k /yr while Adams will take a slight cut in pay to 650k /yr. Both players will sign short term deals.

Group E: the 'wanna-be' players

A small group of players who have the talent to make some noise, and are still young enough to do so, BUT don't have the 'it' that it takes to get them over the hump. Comrie had a good play-offs with Ottawa and he will probably get the biggest paycheque of the bunch - just smaller than before. 3 year deal, somewhere that needs an offense first-last-always forward, for $2.5 mill /yr.

Stefan and Vasicek were both, once, highly touted prospects. Not great years for them however. Vasicek will get roughly $1 mill /yr for a couple of years from someone who wants to take a chance while Stefan may be re-inventing himself into a defensively sound forward. Take a couple more years for him to do that so expect another couple of 800 - 900k paydays for him this round.

Funny thing about Vasicek... not a good year in Carolina but dig a little deeper and you find out the guy played some very tough competition through-out the year. One of the best 'Quality of competition' stats in the NHL last year (courtesy of Desjardins). Interesting.

Group F: the 'it's a good-life' players

The guys are hanging on to their jobs every game of every year. I won't go into detail on most of these as it is fairly clear that the majority of them will be lucky to get 2 year contracts that aren't two-way deals. The best of them will get 650 - 750k contracts and the average will probably be in the 500k range.

Of the guys mentioned above, Peterson and (M) Smith may have solidified a reputation for being dependable utility forwards while Hamilton, MacLean and Hartignan may have given themselves a future as 2nd line PP fill-ins. Holmqvist and Ritchie make up the PK utility set of this this group. Rasmussen and Mair haven't done themselves any favors and (W) Smith and Santala are just fill-ins.

With this group of forwards it is always hard to say as to what will really happen. Why they even get playing at all can often be up for debate (some are only injury fill-ins, etc). The only thing that isn't debateable is that they won't make much more than the minimum and that even the smallest NHL paycheque is still a pretty good paycheque to have.

Group G: the 'you still play?' players

Centers tend to be under a LOT of pressure to perform in the NHL. They can get pushed out of their roster spot very quickly. Excepting Perreault, all the players in this group are guys who have fallen off the map (sts) in regards to their level of play and they should probably retire soon or sooner. None of them will get a contract longer than 2 years.

Perreault gets by on superior face-off skills and some decent PP work. He will find a job somewhere and make $1.2 mill /yr or so doing it. Ricci, Green and Dowd may get work as dependable 4th-line PK vets while Roenick never learned how to adjust his game to match his roster spot (not specialized enough in any one area of the game) and so he may be waiting on a new contract for quite a while. Expect most of the signings to be at or near the minimum.


Next part of this post follows directly below.

2006-07 Off-Season UFA's (Part Three - Centers) - B

Part 'B' of the third in a series of posts on the UFA market that will hit this coming off-season. Part 'A' is directly above this one.

Who To Target?

For my money the best players to target are (from each group):




Peterson / Ritchie

For less money than Briere or Gomez might make, Drury will provide more versatile and dependable play AND he can play the tough minutes. A team could do worse than making Drury one of the key building blocks of their forward group and a long-term deal on $6 mill/yr would be money expensively, but well, spent. Drury is also good as a 'put-us-over-the-top' guy on a short-term contract.

I only like Gomez and Briere on long, long term deals where they can become the identity of the team and the team can be built around them. I think Briere will actually stay in Buffalo but in any case both figure to be very expensive signings. I don't like them for the Oilers at all.

Smolinski and White are veteran guys who can anchor the 3rd line or cover the 2nd line and as such, if a team needs help in that area they would be great signings - short or long-term. I do think that they would both prefer longer-term deals in the 3 -4 year range at $2 mill /yr or so. Those would be good deals.

Belanger is a guy I like however. Given that quality 3rd line guys make anywhere from $1.5 to 2.5 mill /yr regardless, the smart GM will sign this guy to a long-term deal (5 years+) that tops out at $2 million but averages $1.6 mill /yr. Quality 3rd line cornerstone at an affordable price and inflation protected out the wazoo - what's not to like?

Sykora and Lang are both good pick-ups for a team that needs offensive depth for now and is willing to trade them at the deadline if the play-offs are out of sight for a while. Short-term deals of a single year is preferable - even if a premium has to be paid. I pegged their prices above.

Bonk has transformed himself into a valuable player. He is generally underappreciated and as a defensive minded guy he is undervalued. Belanger is the lesser version of Bonk imo. The smart GM knows what Bonk offers and gets him to sign a long-term deal in the $2 mill /yr range. Barring personality issues this is the kind of guy who can become a 'core' player on a good team.

Walz is a good, short-term, solution to any team needing veteran defensive depth and a leadership boost. Much like Lang/Sykora however his best use is as trade bait at the deadline. Short-term deal for few bucks means a nice draft pick later.

Peterson and Ritchie are great for any team that needs a veteran to baby-sit some rookies on the 4th-line and as such they should get picked up by some enterprising GM. I like them because they should stay at or near the minimum and out-perform their price at that level. 500k /yr for a couple of years.


So those are the centers. Were I Lowe and I was going to play it conservatively ('make-the-play-offs') I make my plays for:

-- Gomez, Briere or White.

Seriously. this team is so far away that only the offense of the big boys may get them a shot at the play-offs. White is a 'chance' pick in that he might help Horcoff and Stoll enough that the three of them carry the team in.

If I treat my team as a rebuild I look at:

-- Peterson, Bonk, Lang, Sykora and Belanger.

Peterson because he plays utility forward on the bottom two lines for me, Bonk because eventually Horcoff/Stoll may move on or be traded, Sykora nd Lang because I want the prospects/draft picks that come with trading them later and Belanger because I want to risk a little to maybe gain a lot.

Not a lot of solutions for the Oilers from the UFA centers available this off-season.


Have a great evening everyone.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

NHL Entry Draft - Your Oilers

Note that I have borrowed liberally from TSN, the NHL and All credit is due them.

While I didn't like the Oilers draft moves at all, I did like the players they took. The last two Euro's (Kytnar and Quist) look like real sleeper picks and make me think the Oilers weren't just going through the motions this year. Odd that later picks would give me more comfort on earlier picks but that is how it has worked.

Without further ado, at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft the Edmonton Oilers draft picks were:

006 - Sam Gagner

Shoots: R
1989 Birthyear (18 in August)
5'11" / 190 lbs

Skill player. Has great numbers both in terms of real numbers but also in terms of equivalencies.

My read is that this is a good pick. He projects out well, wasn't a reach at where he was chosen and has the skills needed to play. Issues are that he played for the London Knights and with Kane - both situations that pump up the numbers a bit. That said, still a good choice.

From NHL Central Scouting: A skilled forward with the ability to make the big plays. Has very good hands and is creative with the puck. Has a good wrist shot with a quick release. Has high-end passing skill both forehand and backhand. Sees the ice very well. Reliable in the defensive end and used in critical situations. A good skater, but needs to work on his acceleration and mobility. Needs to improve his ability to fight through checks.

From TSN: ... has spectacular highlight-reel puckhandling skills ... But for all the fancy dangles, he also has a lethal shot ... his strength is as a creative playmaker with great vision and passing ability ... "Skating is okay, not like his Dad's," said one scout of former NHL speedster Dave Gagner, who was blessed with great wheels but didn't have nearly the creativity or vision that his son brings to the table. For him to be more than a PP guy, scouts believe he will have to learn to win more battles and increase his competitiveness, but they duly note that this a young man with character and work ethic who grew up in a pro environment and understands what it takes to play at the next level and will work diligently toward that goal.

From ISS: His offensive skills are unquestionable and he has been a top point producer at every level that he has played. Shows very good puck control at a high rate of speed ... excellent anticipation, vision and passing skills ... Like other young players, at times will cheat on the offensive side of the puck, however he is dependable if game situation clearly requires strong defensive play. Does not have great size, must continue to work on core strength.

015 - Alex Plante

Shoots: R
1988 Birthyear (19 in May)
6'4" / 225 lbs

Defensive defenseman. Has great physical attributes and good numbers (especially in the play-offs) for a guy who is supposed to be a defensive defenseman.

My read is that this is a good pick. The only thing I don't like about it is that he was chosen ahead of Cherepanov. He projects out well, was debateable as a reach at where he was chosen but the physical package is such that he could ACTUALLY be the rarest of all things - a franchise d-man. Issues are that he has an '89 birthyear and that he really needs to work on his skating and mobility. That said, if not for the Cherepanov controversy, I really like the pick.

From NHL Central Scouting: A stay-at-home defenseman with good size. Has a long stride and is able to skate the puck out of his own zone. Moves the puck quickly and shoots well from the point. Is well positioned. Needs to improve his foot speed and agility. Needs to improve his play under pressure.

The TSN Insider's Forecast: ... is a big, strong, aggressive player who is not without some offensive ability ... probably the polar opposite to / an ultra-offensive minded defenceman ... The question mark on Alex is skating but he has enough assets to get by ...

From ISS: ... one of the biggest draft wildcards. The number one attraction of this player is his combination of outstanding size and skill. He is blessed with a genetic gift and a relatively high level of skating and puck skill for a player this big. Plante is an intense player who is mean and not afraid of playing along the boards or competing physically. He has a good stride and his agility is improving.

021 - Riley Nash

Shoots: R
1989 Birthyear (18 in May)
6' 1" / 175 lbs

3rd line center with 2nd line upside. Good skater and plays a smart game. His point totals indicate he is a fairly decent passer.

Again, I like the player but hate how we got him - a reach where he was taken and we gave up two other, very good, draft picks to get this guy. Could be the next Zajac but getting a good read on guys who are basically playing highschool level hockey is tough. Going to Cornell next year and the school isn't known for being a hockey player factory. Lots of issues with this guy and he will HAVE to turn out well just to justify the picks used. I want to like the guy but am having trouble doing so. Here's hoping...

From NHL Central Scouting: A skilled forward. A shifty center with good skating ability. Handles the puck with ease and is smart positionally. Needs to be more consistent through 60 minutes. Needs to improve his ability to get in to good scoring position.

The TSN Insider's Forecast: Nash's biggest weakness at this point is that he's not physically developed and needs to get much stronger.

From ISS: ... a good, honest player willing to work hard and give a consistent effort every night. He fits the mould of a "late-bloomer" and with continued attention to small details he will continue to improve.

097 - Linus Omark

Shoots: L
1987 Birthyear (20 in February)
5'8" / 167 lbs

2nd line playmaking winger. Good skater, smart player, good skills, poor size. Being brought in to a) give him his shot and b) push the other prospects.

I have to say that I really like this pick (though I think we should have traded up to get Mayorov, who went at #94 to Columbus). As an overager who has been playing the professional game Omark is a true boom-or-bust pick. Given that the pick is from the 4th round I don't really care if it is a reach or not and a gamble at this point is well worth it. Size is a big issue because if he does make the team, with guys like Thoreson already aboard, the Oilers will look a lot like Smurfs in those blue jersey.

From NHL Central Scouting: A skilled forward with excellent speed… has quick feet and can beat defenders one-on-one… handles the puck well in traffic and passes the puck well forehand and backhand… sees the ice well and is effective on the power-play… battles hard along the boards…

From A flashy player with first-class technical skills and hands. Very creative player with good hockey sense and natural scoring ability. Defense is okay, although it can be fine-tuned. Good skater with great agility and moves. Additional strength and muscles would not hurt.

127 - Milan Kytnar

Shoots: L
1989 Birthyear (18 in May)
6'0" / 182 lbs

2nd or 3rd line center. Interesting blend of defense and skill.

I love this pick. Has all the hallmarks of the kind of under-the-radar guy that teams like Detroit have been scooping for years. Young guy has already made a mark on the international stage and has already captained a team a national level team. Everything about him screams big upside and a character guy. Only issue is the skating so lets hope he gets that training asap.

From NHL Central Scouting: A hard working two-way center… has good hands and a quick stick on face-offs… has good on-ice awareness and a good shot... able to play very physical… needs to improve his first step quickness…

From nothing reported.

157 - William Quist

Shoots: L
1989 Birthyear (18 in July)
6'3" / 191 lbs

All over the map. Winger. Skill guy with great skating and reach.

Another pick I love. Another one of those 'under-the-radar' guys and if he can actually play then the only thing holding him back is strength. Barring an affliction of 'Niinimaki syndrome' (the inability to gain strength and stay healthy) that can be developed. Probably won't be anything but all a team needs is one guy from the later rounds to really turn out and all is gold - just ask Detroit about Datsyuk and Zetterberg one day.

From NHL Central Scouting: nothing reported.

From A huge guy that is a very good and speedy skater. Quist is technically skilled and has good hands. He is creative with the puck and tough to stop thanks to his great reach. Could use some extra muscles and strength.
Have a great evening everyone.