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.