Saturday, June 30, 2007

Wishlist


The idea of paying hot commodity and 13 goal scorer Scott Gomez seven million a year doesn't really do it for me.
With Dick Tarnstrom apparently coming back my wish list is a simple one - sign Paul Kariya. If they could sign Guerin as well, that would be perfect.
My reasoning - you have Stoll, Pisani and Moreau as one line to play tough minutes. Hemsky, Pouliot and Nilsson to play the softest there is. Yes, Nilsson. Its time to see if he can make it. Playing him with Reasoner and Storini makes no sense.
Then you have ideally Kariya, Horcoff and Guerin to handle both ends of the rink. Then you move Torres and Smid or Greene or Gilbert for a Dman to play in your top two.
If you can't get Kariya pick up Guerin and he, Horcoff and Torres (or Moreau - move Torres to the Stoll line) make up a line.
My reasoning, in a nutshell. This team isn't contending for the Cup but add Tarnstrom, Kariya (or Guerin) and a true # 1 Dman and they are in contention for a playoff spot.
They have a whack of kids (see Lowetide's top 20). Some are still in junior or in college. Some, like Cogliano, O'Marra, Almtorp, Schremp, Young, Trukhno and Dubnyk are likely headed to the minors and that's fine.
Pouliot and Thoresen are set for the NHL. Smid and Greene as well.
Its Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Roy, Nilsson, Jacques and Brodziak who are in limbo. Maybe Gilbert and Roy could go to Springfield but another year in the AHL for any of the rest - what's the point? Play them or move them.
I would guess Grebeshkov is the sixth or seventh man to break camp and Brodziak is on the fourth line with Thoresen. One of Nilsson or Jacques is gone. The other gets some prime icetime.
Interesting year coming.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Trouble in River City


I guess we'll see a few years down the road how things turn out for the Oilers from last weekend. I'm no draftnik, learning much of what I know from Lowetide's blog, the sites he links to and the comments made in the threads there.
I figured this year would be what it was, although some of the picks were beyond me. After the top few picks it figured to be fluid, although I think nobody figured how fluid it would be. Seeing the Russian and Esposito not only fall out of the top ten but nearly out of the top twenty was a huge surprise to me. Interesting to see if the Rangers and Pens stole top notch talents or if half of the league was right in passing on them. Bob Mackenzie said before the draft that teams would be making picks all over the place and that some selections would seem out of left field and so it was. The Kings picked Hickey and it got weirder from there.
I like Gagner a lot. I was sold on Voracek but Gagner is a two way player (excellent) with speed, skill and a bit of an edge. Sounds pretty good to me.
Plante - well, who knows? Like nearly everyone else in the draft there was divided opinion. Some speak really highly of him. Others think he's riding on Alzner's coattails and will be Matt Greene II (the bad Matt Greene, not that we've seen much of the good Matt Greene).
And Nash - well I think the problem many had with him (and with Plante for that matter) is that they felt they could have been had with lower picks. And the fact that Lowe moved two picks to get Nash rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
I've never seen any of these guys play (and when I say these guys I mean every single guy who was drafted except Alzner who I can't remember and Gagner who I do a little bit) so I couldn't tell you the first thing about them. My thoughts on drafting are this - its a crapshoot. Projecting 18 year olds as NHL players is not an easy thing to do. Some teams do seem to better then others and Lowe and company do alright. Certainly much better then the previous regime.
I think if they wanted Plante and Nash then they had to go after them. Would they have been available later? Maybe but who's to say? I would rather Lowe be aggressive and go after the guys he wants and be carried out on his shield (likely coming) then sit back and talk later about how they tried to move up to get this guy or that. Not that that's ever happened.
As for acquisitions for the big team, well nothing doing yet and we'll see what happens. Big talk ahead of this Sunday's foolishness but we all know that when the dust settles Briere, Drury and Gomez will likely not be wearing copper and blue, instead plying their trade elsewhere for some completely insane amount of money. After last year nothing surprises me (of course until I saw Timmonen and Hartnell's deals). Someone put it well the other day - take what you think each guy will get and then pile loads more money on it. Gomez, who scored 13 goals this year, is that right?, will likely be making over 7M a year after all is said and done.
In. Sane.
And Lowe the other day - well, he says, we need to replace Ryan Smyth's goals and we need another top six forward and a puck moving dman.
No shit.
Never mind Smyth's ability to play tough opposition and all of those intangibles.
Presently the lineup looks like not a whole hell of a lot.
Torres-Stoll-Pisani
LW-Horcoff-Hemsky
Moreau-Pouliot-Thoresen
Joffrey Lupul, Marty Reasoner and a bunch of kids
Smith, Staios and a bunch more kids
Roloson
We're the Phoenix Coyotes. Maybe worse.
Here is what Lowe has to do. Good luck to him.
Add a puck moving dman - maybe Zidlicky? Who knows what the fuck is going on in Nashville? And Gary Bettman - fuck you, you little weasel twerp. Are you going to try and arrange for a team to fail in every American market before one returns to Canada? Read a great line on the front of the Post today - when hockey was threatening basketball's popularity in the early 90s David Stern took serious action and dropped the bomb on his rival - by recommending Little Gary to be commish he essentially guaranteed the destruction of hockey as a viable big four sport.
Anyway, bitter asides aside.
Sign Jan Hejda. We know the Oilers are hellbent on Smid getting top four icetime again but sign Hejda as insurance.
He also needs a LW who can score and a couple more wingers who can chip in 15 goals each and take care of business as well as a backup goalie to spell Roli, Stoll's head to clear, Torres to figure it out, Hemsky to become an elite guy, Pouliot, Thoresen and Greene (at least) to take the next step and someone dumb enough to take Joffrey Lupul and his millstone of a contract off his hands.
And a partridge in a pear tree.
In other words, barring a miracle, things are looking ugly.
And if I am saying that, you know what?
Its going to be awful.
The good news is the summer is beginning and its going to be wonderful.
So enjoy. But try not to think about our beloved Oilers. In twelve months they've gone from toast of the league to just plain toast. With a turd on top.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Surprises!


We have no idea what is going to happen in the next two weeks but when it is over the face of the league will have changed.
The draft will be over and the UFA frenzy will be in full swing with most big names likely snatched up for completely outrageous contracts that will handcuff teams long after the GMS who signed them are long gone.
The draft is an interesting one. For all the talk of it being a weak draft the truth is that a lot of NHLers are going to come out of it, as in every draft. There will be high picks who bust and low picks who surprise. Colorado and Jersey and Detroit will mine someone in the lower rounds.
The Oilers have three picks and word presently is that they plan to at least use the first two and good on them - I think there will be quality at that 15th pick. They just have to get the right guy. With talk of Oilogosphere favourite Voracek very possibly dropping to sixth, giving everyone from Newfoundland to Whyte Avenue to Atlanta a raging boner, this draft could make a huge difference for the Oilers as they build toward ... 2010 and 2011.
I'm more of an optimist then most but my guess is unless they pick up someone to replace Smyth via trade and someone to play top 2 on the back end and someone else (Hejda?) to play top four then it may be a long year again. And Lowe has to do this without giving up one of the few real players he has - Roloson, Smith, Staios, Horcoff, Pisani, Moreau, Stoll, Hemsky and Torres.
It is possible. I know we have to get over to Lowetide's to talk him off that ledge but I believe (rhymes with naive) that there are teams looking to move salary for prospects and that some of that salary will include quality for whatever reason. Teams in financial trouble or teams looking to buy big UFAs or teams close to the cap have to move somebody. Holmgren is already talking about moving someone to make room. If Pitkanen is the man to go then he's not looking for any salary back - he's trying to save 2M, remember. So, if Lowe gets the opportunity he might, might, be able to make this team into a playoff team (first round and out mind you) for the short term.
Not likely but for all the stuff that is rumoured - Redden, Pitkanen etc - there are probably fifty things on the table we have no idea about. Remember 29 teams did not win the Cup last year. They're going to be looking to do something. Who knows who is on the block?
Anyhow I will be at a reunion in Goulais and if you know where that is, you win a prize because you would be the only one. I will be close to a TV Saturday around noon and I may be able to post a shortie but for the most part I will be incommunicado. My ancestors were either loners (unlikely because they tended to father children by the bushel), misanthropes (again unlikely based on what I see and know) or they just liked to live in the middle of nowhere because that way nobody from the government would interfere with their stills and poaching. That's likely it, I'd say.
At my wedding my dad got up and started his speech by saying, "We McLeans are a quiet, peace loving bunch."
Like his son, the old man is a liar.
Enjoy the craziness of the next few days. The Ducks may be short their captain, Selanne and Giguere in just over ten days from now. Who says the offseason isn't fun?

Monday, June 18, 2007

That's What You Call Forward Thinking





Philly trades for the rights to Hartnell and Timmonen and then signs them both to long term deals.

That's what you call being ahead of the curve. Ahead of everyone else in the league.

Ramifications for the Oilers - well, Hartnell who they apparently coveted is off the table.

And with Timmonen's arrival, Pitkanen is certainly available.

Kevin Lowe, take notice of Mr. Holmgrem's work. That's some impressive stuff.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!


Its the best thing in the world, being a Dad. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. And if you have not already, read this. This man may be a writer. If not, he should be. Great stuff.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Sillie Season Begins


So it begins, the offseason, more fun then the onseason.


To review the goings on:


Mike Keenan is now head coach of the Flames. Never ever saw that coming. The Playfair era ends with a whimper. I think this may very well be a one shot deal. Some commenter somewhere (I think it was at BofA) made that point, a great one I think, that Keenan is here to try and push them over the top. Next summer when half the team is UFA he will likely be gone and Brent Sutter will come in to take his place. Interesting scenario. Of course all of Keenan's success was in the first ten years of his career when he turned around Philly and Chicago and pushed the Rangers to the Cup. He also had international successes. Since then, nothing.

Chris Gratton goes to Tampa to give them a decent 1-2-3 punch at centre. Gratton is another in a long line of top picks (he was #3) who never lived up to expectations. He has had himself a decent career but not what they figured. I think we're going to see a couple of guys who go top 5 this year end up in the same boat. Anyhow, not a terrible move for Tampa (for a 2nd rounder), considering they had four guys average ~ 30 minutes a game come playoff time.

And Balsillie, good old Balsillie. James Mirtle has been giving a pretty good play by play as always on this stuff. Guy has huge balls. Balsillie, not Mirtle. Somewhere I read today, may have been Damien Cox, the theory that Balsillie is acting the way he is (with some like the Hat thinking he should be more cautious) because he has gotten legal advice that basically has told him the NHL cannot stop him. They cannot stop him from buying the team and they cannot stop him from moving it and that is why he is advertising seasons' tickets in the Hamilton papers. If they try and stop him it will go to court and he thinks he has a winner. Also interesting to note - the same opinion with regards to paying territorial rights to existing teams.

Hamilton Fincups or Tigers or Kate Winslet Is Meeting Me For Some Pints on The Patio Tonights. Whatever you want to call them, that's some great shit.

With the draft just over a week away (I'll be in Goulais but should be able to catch part of it - no blogging though) and then the insanity of the UFA frenzy a week after that, things are going to stay interesting for a while now.

Something on the Oilers soon and it won't involve Grabia or rotting bag ladies, so lets thank our lucky stars for that. Meanwhile, summer is here, so deixa a luz do sol!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Marchant, Selanne and O'Donnell


In the end, it wasn't even close.

While I hoped the Sens would win, I really had little emotion invested in the finals and when the final whistle blew I thought it was a fitting end to this season. Except for the slew of injuries they suffered mid-season the Ducks were pretty well the class of the league. Before the season I actually pegged them to finish behind the Sharks. I figured secondary scoring (or lack thereof) after Teemu would do them in and that unless the kids grew up fast they would be also rans despite their blueline.
Well, the kids grew up fast. They always do.
Things I think:
1/ My favourite part of the playoffs is when they present the Cup (except for last season). This year was no different. Watching veterans like Todd Marchant, Sean O' Donnell, Teemu Selanne and Rob Niedermeyer lift the Stanley is wonderful.
2/ While Alfredsson's move in G4 was bush league (sometimes one wonders what goes on in his head) there is no doubt that he silenced his doubters this post season. After he scored the shortie last night, it looked to me like he was about to have a game for the ages. Now whatever happened to Spezza and Heatley?
3/ Bryan Murray deserves credit for some of the kids on the Ducks' roster but James Mirtle, as always, does an amazing job of showing how Brian Burke turned the Ducks around. Only four players remain from before his arrival. He dumped unmovable contracts, plucked hidden gems and fleeced Doug MacLean and Kevin Lowe. He also hired the right coach. He has a big mouth and you may not like him but he is a hell of a GM.
4/ Randy Carlyle and Dave Farrish played D on my hometown junior team thirty years ago, part if a terrific team that fell a goal short of a Memorial Cup berth. Great to see them raise that Cup.
5/ Always funny to see the travelling secretary and the assistant to the stickboy lifting Stanley.
6/ Poor Chris Phillips but luckily for him this one wasn't even close. Sure it was a momentum killer but a few minutes later they were within one again. There were fifteen periods in this series and the Ducks dominated, what, twelve of them? This wasn't Steve Smith.
7/Last summer I floated the idea of the Oilers moving Pronger and Torres or Moreau to the Sens for Phillips, Fisher and Vermette. Moot point seeing as the Oilers weren't taking on salary but I remember one commenter blasting the idea, saying that such a return would be shit. Vermette sure has Todd Marchant's hands but I'd take any of those guys on my club. Especially Fisher and Phillips. What a couple of terrific players.
8/ Will Anaheim be able to repeat? Well, can they keep Giguere? And if Teemu retires, can they replace him? If they can do both then they will be right back there next year I think. You never know what happens but they have a great team.
9/ And having said that, what happens if Scott Niedermayer doesn't score that late goal against the Wings? Imagine. I also think if it were Wings/ Sens you may have seen a Sens' Cup. The Ducks just were a tough matchup for them.
10/ Whither the Oilers now? Seeing Burke turn the Ducks around gives me hope but Kevin Lowe was the anti-Burke this past season.
Finally, congrats Earl, whatever ditch you are lying in this morning. One of my favourite bloggers. I'm happy for you.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Attention Kevin Lowe - How I Became A Bumfighting Mogul!






In the days leading up to the NHL Entry Draft, be sure to keep an eye on the Edmonton Oilers. They have three first round picks, including the sixth pick overall. But there is another reason and it's that Oilers' General Manger Kevin Lowe is big game hunting.
Between now and the July 1 free agency period, Lowe would love to add a pair of top-six forwards and a quality defenceman.
Lots of people think there's a better chance of doing that via the trade market than by free agency and Lowe has a lot of currency from which to deal.
He has the three first round picks and an entire roster of players that are not untouchable especially after the way the team finished the season after the Ryan Smyth trade.
The Oilers would love to get a guy like Brad Richards from the Lightning. With Tampa's expanding budget, Richards isn't likely available but that's the type of splashy and bold move that Lowe would like to pull off.
There's no guarantee that a big Oiler trade will happen, and if one doesn't, it won't be for a lack of trying.
For TSN.ca, I'm Bob McKenzie.

This was posted on TSN's website Thursday night. Saturday night during the Hot Stove, Duhatschek commented that the Oilers would be hot and heavy after Scott Hartnell during the UFA season.

Interesting stuff. The debate is already raging over at Lowetide's site as to what is available, who the Oilers would have to give up, the futility of it all and so on.

Lets review:

1/ Its a lot easier to fall off the mountain then to climb to the top. The conference finalists this year included two who were there last year as well as the two regular season conference champions from last season. In other words, no matter what Lowe does I think its reasonable to think there's no Cinderella story in the cards next season. A rebound is the goal but there are a lot of holes to fill.

2/ Speaking of holes, two guys to play in the top six would be accurate if you consider Torres ready to fit that role. Also one or two guys to do some more heavy lifting up front (maybe one and the same). And at least one Dman to play top four although two would be better. And they had better be able to move the puck.

3/ In terms of players on the roster with value, the Oilers are thin. And, of course, herein lies another problem. Moving guys like Torres, Horcoff and Staios may seem well and good if you are upgrading at those positions but if you replace one quality NHLer with another you still have those other holes to fill. And you had better make sure that you are getting some serious bang for your buck on the return.

4/ Having said that, if Lowe is serious about upgrading this roster he has to send some cash the other way. That means Lupul has to go and likely so will someone else who is making some decent cash. Unless ...

5/ The assumption from the start has been that Lowe (and of course MacKenzie says it) wants to make a big splash and people have been taking that to mean that we're looking at big money guys coming back - if he can swing a deal for a guy like Duncan Keith or our favourite, Brent Seabrook, then he gets his man and he's not spending 5M.

I'm not sure how it plays out. Lowe does have one thing - a ton of young cheap players and prospects as well as plenty of picks. And while you might argue the future of Rob Schremp or Matt Greene or Robert Nilsson, they do have value because they are cheap.

There are teams in trouble financially that are going to be looking to move players for young cheap futures in order to stem the financial bleeding. Atlanta, Phoenix and Florida might fit here.

There are teams that are close up to the cap and are looking to move guys in order to sign other guys. Buffalo, Ottawa, Jersey and maybe Nashville (which may fit into the first category) fit here.

There are teams looking to make a change or who want to be active on the FA market or who are looking to rebuild.

In other words Lowe will have plenty of trading partners, I think.

Too many holes and too big a hole to climb out of to get back to the top of that mountain next year. But make the right moves and maybe two or three or four years down the road the Oilers can do what Carolina did last year and what Anaheim looks ready to do this year, return to finish the job.

Can it be done? Well, let me offer an anecdote from my own experience to illustrate the possibilities. The parallels between my own experience and what has happened to the Oilers are so uncanny, I dare anyone to not see the possibilities.

Ok, so here's the situation. My parents went away for a week's vacation.

Sorry, wrong story.

Summer is arriving here and a sure sign of this is the huge increase in panhandlers. Now, they're no drug addicted zombie hoboes like those that plague downtown Edmonton but they are everywhere.

I've actually had two instances where they have come to my door. Once was a number of years back. Two women, stinking of booze, tried to con me into giving money for a legitimate charity. Of course I loosed the hound upon them. As he tore out one's liver and feasted on it, blood and bile squirting all over my daughter's tricycle, I realized that it wasn't two boozy bums who had knocked on my door, it had been opportunity. There was money to be made off of them there bums. As my dog chowed down on kidneys and colon, I closed the door and began to formulate a plan.

It was easy really, There is a ravine near our street. This was to be our arena. I had plenty of neighbours looking for cheap thrills. And we had plenty of bums to exploit.

I had an ace in the hole, however. One weekend while on a cocaine fueled bender I had spent some time crashed in a park. There I had stumbled on an enormabum, a giant from Samoa. Like so many others from central Europe he had come to Canada looking for a better life. Fate had conspired against him and so he found himself homeless in a park, surviving by eating squirrels, raccoons and city parks workers. I convinced him to come and sleep under my porch. I would feed him and he could live rent free (if he paid me even a dollar he would no longer be considered homeless) as long as he represented my household in the bumfighting league.

As you can well imagine I had complete success that first season. Nobody could stand before my Samoan. I made oodles of money and I was the toast of the neighbourhood. Small children cheered and their mothers lifted their skirts to me in tribute. My opponents, my friends and neighbours, begrudgingly could do nothing but smile and tickle my balls in tribute. And then, just days after my greatest triumph, our victory in the year end tournament, disaster struck.

One of our newer neighbours, just moved in from California, had seen my weakness and exploited it. Under his own porch he had installed hot and cold running poi and had also arranged for a Samoan escort service to make regular visits to his home. The end result was that my man, Koa Wakapululupupululuku asked me for a trade. There was nothing I could do but comply with his request. With the new season just around the corner my so called neighbour had my balls in a vise and he was squeezing hard. Against my better judgement I caved into his demand and moved the Samoan. The return was meagre. A scrawny Czech teenager, a transvestite hooker and future draftpicks.

The fall from grace was swift. The only thing left to comfort me was my winnings from the previous season. Neither of my new acquisitions was much on the circuit. The Czech was game but I could tell the shemale's heart wasn't quite in it.

And then, Lady Luck smiled.

Coming back from McCarthy's after a half dozen pints, I heard the unmistakable sound of Andy Grabia having sex with a bag lady behind the Piggly Wiggly. It was a sound I knew all too well. Grabia had been a legend on the bum fighting circuit but his love of filthy bag ladies and huffing Pam had sent him down the toilet on a filthy slide of shit and pus.

As I watched him make love to the dirty old hobo I suddenly realized that Grabia's rights were still owned by one of my neighbour's who had taken him as a flyer late in our expansion draft. This neighbour had lost his job and was in danger of losing his home. He had been sliding on the circuit, his only remaining bum a scabby old drunk with one eye.

The stench was overwhelming. As I urinated on the two of them to try and lessen the awful odour, I asked Grabia if he was looking to get back in the game. A mountain of a man, with cat like reflexes and the ferocity of a wild animal, I knew that if I could get him focussed, he was my ticket back to the top. As he completed his daily rounds, this most handsome of scabby panhandlers gave me a toothy smile and affirmed that he was indeed ready, aye, ready.

The rest is history. I packaged up my picks, my hooker and my Czech teenager and moved them to my neighbour for his scabby old bum and the rights to Grabia. Everyone thought I was crazy but the end result was win win for everyone. My neighbour was able to keep his house as he no longer had to pay for his scabby old veteran. I had the rights to Grabia and of course I could afford the cap hit. Of course I fed the old bum to the dog which was also quite enjoyable for everyone. Except for the bum, I guess.

Grabia crushed the Samoan in their first battle. It was vicious but Koa Akupukujukululununu was no match for the Albertan's ferocity. Grabia bit off his nose in the frenzy. Victory was his and mine.

The only minus is that I have to listen to Grabia having sex with bag ladies under my porch night in and night out. The smell of gangrene becomes a little much at times but that's the way he likes them so what am I to say?

The moral of this story for you Oil fans? Well, clearly there are a number of lessons to be learned. Lets review.

Andy Grabia is not the man you thought he was.
Sex with bag ladies can be enjoyable.
Samoans are lousy no good sellouts.
Bumfighting is an enjoyable hobby where you can make money and, best of all, nobody gets hurt.
And you can move a lot of cheap, seemingly worthless assets for an important piece to the puzzle if you find the right situation.

Do you see what I'm saying?

Friday, June 01, 2007

There's Going To Be A Bumfight!



Interesting comments from Bob MacKenzie last night on TSN (transcript is on their website) where he claims that Lowe has huge plans for this summer, hoping to use his plethora of young cheap players to land three (3!) premium players via trade. Two up front and one on the back end.

With talk of the dollar being at par by year end it appears he may be about to roll the dice (MacKenzie says if nothing gets done it won't be for lack of trying - who wrote that, Jim Matheson?)

Tomorrow or Sunday night I will be able to post on this interesting development using my own experiences in our neighbourhood bumfighting league to show that if Lowe plays his cards right he too will be able to rise from a disastrous situation to become King of the Bumfights.

Be forewarned - this post will involve Samoans, dirty hobos, drug addiction and Andy Grabia having sex with a bag lady.

Good stuff.