Sunday, March 1, 2009
Trade Deadline Musing - 2008-09
Where Do We Go From Here?
The Oilers are, heading into the trade deadline, in a very interesting 'spot' so to speak. Not bad enough to require a full on rebuild and not good enough to make a run with a couple of add-ons the team is some 23 shades of grey.
The upside of this is that the team is in a position to make a whack of incremental changes and not really get challenged on the making of any of them. The idea being that sometimes a bunch of small changes all add up to having the same impact as a few big ones.
Most of what I will write here is predicated on MacT as coach throughout the rest of this year and that next year either: a) he returns or b) the way management wants the team to play doesn't change.
The Coach Factor
MacT favors players who play hard. Neither skill level (Nilsson) nor results (Penner) matter as much to MacT as effort. Normally I don't think there is too much wrong with that approach as most players get the message and the truly lazy you don't want on the team regardless.
Problems will arise however when the approach stops making sense.
If the goal of the game is to win, then sitting on Penner and kicking him the nads every chance one gets - when it is clear he is the best 1st line LW option on the team - doesn't make a lot of sense.
It makes even less sense when a player like Moreau, who is getting hammered out there on a head to head basis shift after shift AND is taking bad penalties again and again and again, gets prime minutes game after game and never gets called on it.
Despite what some fans think, players aren't stupid. The players see what is happening and, understandably, the credibility gap makes it hard for them to listen to the coach.
From what I have seen over the years a coach can get away with some or a little of one (leaning on a guy not totally deserving of the hate) and some or a little of the other (favoritism for a guy not totally earning the love) but not the extremes of both.
For better or for worse, Moreau and Staios have become crutches for MacT and it is probably better for the team over-all if they get moved. Let Souray, Horcoff and Hemsky provide a new leadership core.
Moreau's injury aside, both Staios and Moreau are seen as 'warrior' types. This makes them desirable trade chips. Moreau and Staios also have contracts outsized to their contributions and those contracts have time yet to run. Not so desirable.
These are take what you can get trades. The Oilers are better off keeping Grebeshkov, Smid, Strudwick, Brodziak and Cole (with luck) than they are Moreau and Staios so clearing that salary is important.
With MacT's crutches taken away the risk becomes sending the wrong signal to the rest of the team. Time to get rid of the clutter on the roster.
If Penner were the only problem MacT had with this roster it would be workable; but he isn't. From where I sit the players MacT has trouble with, on a regular basis, comprise a list of Penner, Nilsson, Pouliot and Cogliano. Schremp is an unneeded distraction and he should go too.
Penner and Schremp have to go regardless. One of Nilsson or Pouliot needs a change of address post haste. Cogliano has to learn to play wing, take face-offs or go play center poorly somewhere else - and he needs to be told that straight up.
Some of these players have real value (Penner, Cogliano) while others are add-ons (Pouliot, Nilsson) and others are throw-ins (Schremp); if combined with Moreau and Staios there is some opportunity there to make some big deals.
The Goalie and Cole
I wrestle with the idea of trading Roloson. If I am thinking I am okay with missing the play-offs then he has to go and if I am thinking that I would rather make the play-offs than not then he should stay.
Cole probably has to go. Regardless of how bad I want to make the play-offs. He just isn't the difference maker Roli is.
That was hard to type btw - I have wanted Cole on this team a long, long time and nothing makes the overpriced contracts of Moreau, Staios and Pisani pop into the consciousness more than knowing because of those contracts there isn't a remote chance we could keep Cole on the roster.
Since I am both seller (selling the Vets to Cup contender teams) and buyer (the younger players) I have a lot of targets to pick from. Since I have a range of items available I should be involved in all kinds of deals.
And since none of what I am giving up, outside of Cogliano, is a core asset I'm not going to hurt my team going forward. In fact, if I can get in on the right deals maybe I secure some assets I can add to my core build.
Lowebellini has a lot of assets to work with right now and the future is wide open, my hope is that this team is radically different come the evening of March 4th.
I have always been a big fan of Dawes from the Rangers. If I am trading Roloson then Washington is the team I call and Gordon, despite the horrible year, could be a target. Ponikarovsky is still a favorite so hopefully Burke returns calls from Tambellini. If Cole is heading back to Carolina then Ruutu is a decent pick-up. I wanted Letang from Pittsburgh but that ship has sailed. Just how desperate is Montreal?
This is the kind of trade deadline where cash can make a real difference so if Katz wants to get some prime assets back then maybe opening the wallet and swallowing hard while he pays some hack to be in the minors is just what he has to do.
Think outside the box. What about Penner and something for Ryan Malone? The length of the contract is horrible but at least he plays MacT's style of game and Tampa chops a whack of years off of their committment ledger.
If you are going to overpay someone it might as well be someone you actually like.
More than anything I would want to a) fix my locker-room chemistry and b) add a core player to the mix - preferably a left winger.
Have a great evening everyone.