Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Lowe Rolled The Dice - Now Who Will Pay?

6/ Edmonton - Great forwards, good goaltending. Newfound confidence and an infusion of youth add up to a playoff spot even with this D - look for two of Bergeron, Greene or Smid to exceed expectations and, if all else fails, Lowe will move assets to get help on the blueline - definite playoff team with possibility of higher finish
I look back at those crazy days of my misspent youth. Week long benders, staggering from pub to pub. Sleeping with some different crazy dame every night. Smoking, snorting, shooting any chemical I could get my hands on. Believing what I believed about the Oilers.
Must have been the booze and drugs talking.
Now that Traktor Boy has fled back to Mother Russia maybe we can trade him for a second line centre who averages nearly a point a game. Nah, nobody would ever go for that deal - sending a player like that for some kid who might never even come back from Russia. Plus we might be mortgaging our future.
Oh, someone already pulled a deal like that. Hmm.
Anyhow, we all know that Lowe gambled and it is looking more and more like he has lost. Things started well, even when the vaunt was less vaunt then meh but when Shaggy came up lame things started to go south. And with Staios suffering from that really bad flu, you know the one that dislocates your knees and such, well, things aren't looking so hot for the good guys, even considering they picked up twelve points in their last ten games with Smith, Bergeron and a bunch of guys on D who keep getting younger and younger. Or so it seems.
The Oilers are treading water but those seas are getting choppier.
And now the question is, what does Lowe do and even if he buys is it too late to stop the bleeding? They're only four points out of a playoff spot but your man Kevin Lowe has to make a tough call.
Does he give up prospects or picks for a rental or two when he may not even get to that next season? And who does he give up if he does go that route?
Or does he take this opportunity to remake this team, even so far as to go into full rebuilding mode?
1/ How would the fans feel if he waved the white flag?
My guess is if they are still in it, even if its just sniffing distance, he doesn't sell. Selling off assets even if the playoffs are just a faint possibility isn't going to fly. Ferguson Jr. faces the same issue here and he's not selling unless the team goes into complete freefall. And like the Leafs that is not going to happen to the Oilers even with that blueline, unless they are ravaged by injuries or they just stumble really hard and have the mother of all slumps. Unfortunately they're a tweener team - good enough to tease us with possibilities but not good enough to follow on that promise.
2/ Who would have value if he sold?
You could start with almost everyone who was in on last year's run except for those guys rewarded with long term contracts. So Pisani, Moreau, Horcoff, Staios, Roloson - these guys aren't going anywhere. However, Smyth, Smith, Torres, Stoll, Markannen - all of them would bring something in return, even Jussi. I'll tell you one thing - if Jason Smith isn't an Oiler come March 1st you know this is going to be a longterm rebuild. And Lowe's going to get calls about him.
And of course Shaggy, Sykora and Reasoner would all bring something back as well.
3/ What about Smyth?
Who knows? Rumour was a week ago or so that Meehan and Lowe were talking but that was apparently just that - rumour. Its been debated as to whether or not the Oilers should sign him but an interesting outside take is that of Lyle Richardson from Spector's Trade Rumours - I'll be shocked if the Oilers don't re-sign Smyth, who's been their heart and soul for years. It'll be a serious blow to their fans to lose him via free agency, one that would send the wrong message that, despite the salary cap, the Oilers are unwilling to spend to retain their best player. I for one hope that Lyle is right. Is that my heart talking? Damn right it is. Smyth is my favourite Oiler and I think for once it would be nice to see an Oiler star stay an Oiler. And even my head says sign him, to be honest. They're not going to replace what he brings with another UFA and to trade for the younger equivalent? You're giving up something big to do so.
If he's gone you're rebuilding the D and your forward corps as well.
4/What's going to happen?
I think the Oilers continue to hang around. I think Lowe tries to augment his blueline but he's cautious about it. The Oilers continue to be up and down but they eke out a playoff spot. Worn out, Roloson and Smith can't do what needs to be done and the Oilers fall in the first round. I think they resign Smyth and pick up a top four blueliner over the summer as well as one more Dman who has a some experience, a Shaggy type as it were (if only a little more durable) and try again next year.
5/What do I hope happens?
Staios and Shaggy return quickly and Lowe augments the blueline a little more aggressively. Lupul goes on a tear in the last thirty games and makes Lowe look good for picking him up. Torres continues to develop into a decent two way hockey player as does Stoll. Horcoff and Pisani finish strongly. In the first round they recapture some of last spring's swagger and take a round but can't get any farther. Smyth resigns in the summer and they pick up a Dman or two (see above) and go into next season ready to rebound (and better prepared to).
The next month is going to be interesting.


namflashback said...

I think the focus of the plan was for next year or the year after anyway. This year, they were gambling with a 13 and the dealer had a face card.

I'm sure they want a playoff round for the rev, but they're not going to die on the sword.

re: Smyth -- its just all posturing from both sides of the table right now, and all indications are that they actually haven't really done any accross te table/fax/phone negotiating since October. I personally don't think half-a-mil difference per year is worth giving him up. While the return asset in a trade might be interesting, it certainly won't be a key piece of the cog in the next 2 years.

It's more important that they get the new d-guy in the offseason -- where a ton of them are up for UFA (but currently on contenders). If the injuries have not been solved, we'll see a token move to get a couple of lower tier guys at the deadline. (Matvichuk, Brewer?)

Mr DeBakey said...

This raises a couple of questions

- when signing Smyth, what do they forsee as their player budget for next year? With Smyth, Sykora, Torres, Hejda, and a D upgrade the Oil are looking at $44-$45 million
- Where do the Oilers see their youg D-men - Greene, Smid, Roy, Gilbert, Chorney, Syvret, Young?
They've four trying to fit through the door now & next September - can they afford to move the one that will get them the best return?

Smith will be worth a ton at the deadline.

namflashback said...


I know Gator would be a great asset to a [bona fide] contender, and maybe that nets you a very nice prospect, but that leaves a big gaping hole in the 1-2 pair. I don't think Greene is going to be ready next season.

And we've seen what a youth movement on defence feels like.

Mr DeBakey said...

Oh I agree
I'd be surprised if the Oilers trade him.

But, there's no doubt, a team that thinks it might make a serious run at The Cup would Overpay for Smith.

Its good to see someone stick up for him. On the, ahem, lesser forums, the posters all think he's having a crap season.

Black Dog said...

I would say any team except maybe for Buffalo and Detroit would take a shot at him if they could get him. San Jose. Anaheim (do you think they remember what he can do?). Nashville. And so on.

He can play.

But the Oilers won't move him unless they move a forward for a replacement for him plus pick up another vet in the summer plus a backend guy so its unlikely.

As for next year's salaries I count them at around 40 if Smyth is at 5.25 and Torres at a third of that and Hejda coming in around 1M. But that is without a backup goalie or Sykora and with Smid, Hejda and MAB down the left side. So if they bring in a Dman at 3 to replace MAB hten they are at 42 and of course if Lupul or someone gets moved then things change.

Mr DeBakey said...

$42 million don't go as far as it usta.