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.


Mr DeBakey said...

Brodziak, Jacques

This incorporates your idea of Fedorov
I’ve traded him for Reasoner, both are UFAs next summer

The four young guys sub in as required; Thoreson on the road for line match-ups, Jacques when muscle is required and so forth

An option is Guerin with Stoll & Sanderson; slide Pisani in on Pouliot’s wing.

Jani Rita scored 32 goals last season

For the D – Markov, yes. Hejda, I gotta soft spot for that guy.

So why did the whole league pass on Boynton - Does he have leprosy?
I’ve been pushing him all summer.
He’d be perfect with this group[except for the communicable disease of course]


Defence like a car wreck; awful but exciting.

YKOil said...

Teams passed on Boynton because they knew they had to have their powder dry for free agency.

PunjabiOil said...

Another excellent read YK.

Disappointed Hedja wasn't brought back. Seems like the Oilers are content with Grebs/Gilbert.

Really isn't much left in terms of free agents. Any improvement made will have to be done so by Trades

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