Thursday, January 22, 2009
In one of the threads below the topic of time came up, free time specifically, and how that concept disappears once you have kids.
I remember back in the day. Roll out of bed. Grab a bite to eat, make some coffee, read the Saturday paper, maybe a little a bit of the hummina hummina if she was so inclined (I am always so inclined).
Nowadays, not so much.
Of course, its temporary, and this is how I got lulled into the third. Our first two get along very well and you can pretty well leave them to their own devices as long as there are no blowtorches, poisons or sharp objects about. So a year ago in the summer we were returning to normal. I could read the Saturday morning paper while the wife went for a long run. Pints after work or dinner with friends was reasonable. I went to Montreal in July for a long weekend with a pal for a couple of days of wandering to celebrate our 40th birthdays and then I followed that up with a pilgrimage to Edmonton to see the Oilers. In February my wife went to Banff.
Last February I was in Ireland working and I had the weekend to myself so from Friday afternoon until Monday morning I was on my own. Nobody to answer to. Nothing to do.
Amazing time. One of the best I've had. And I've had my share.
I'm not going to have a weekend like that in a long time. That's ok but it makes for a little wistfulness now and then.
Now, don't get me wrong. I had nearly forty years to sit around and do fuck all and the alternative, kids, cannot be beat and for that matter we're good for giving each other time to ourselves. In a month I am going to Buffalo to see Les Sabres and their mustachioed fanbase. We're going to get loaded and we're staying overnight. Sometime between now and then the wife is going skiing for a day.
It has to be done - time to yourself or you'll go mental.
And in eighteen months or so the baby will be on her own and it will be back to Saturday papers and coffee. Its temporary - its just until then, we're strapped.
The Oilers have almost a week off now and one wonders if it came at the wrong time. Five wins in six games, ten wins in their last fifteen and that includes ten games without Hemsky. Team is rolling. They are in sixth right now; of course a bad week next and they could be in twelfth but things are looking pretty good.
Time has been a recurring topic here, most usually in terms of the time it takes players to develop and the fact that a combination of media coverage, big money and just plain old impatience means that everyone expects teenagers to step into the NHL and play as if they had ten years experience in the league.
I have read how Sam Gagner will never be more than a fifty point soft minutes guy, how Cogliano will never be able to play tough minutes, how Matt Greene and Ladislav Smid will never be more than borderline NHLers, how Tom Gilbert peaked after a year in the league.
And so on and so on.
Last season was the greatest as I read over and over again how the Oilers should trade that bum Hemsky as it was obvious that he did not have what it takes.
Now it may be true that Gagner never amounts to anything or that Smid is a bust or that Brodziak never amounts more to than a fourth line guy but history shows us that it takes time for players to come into their own and all of the talking heads and big contracts and internet chatter aren't going to change that. Ales Hemsky started out as a guy who gave away more than he created, as a guy who would not shoot the puck, as a guy shy of the tougher areas of the rink. Even after 2006 we were left wondering if perhaps there was more.
Last season Hemsky took a step. He began to shoot more and night in and night out he was the Oilers best player, imo, until the stretch run when he pulled up a little lame.
And after a slow start to this year he has taken another step again. He's playing tough opposition and outchancing and outscoring them. The opposition keys on him and yet his road production is excellent. He drives the power play and goes to wherever he needs to go to make the play. Two goals against the Coyotes and a performance for the ages against Columbus. He has arrived.
And he will get better still.
So, what do we talk about for the next week or so, besides my pending emasculation? A week from this moment I am going to be sitting on the couch, a bag of frozen peas on my baggage, beer in hand, hoping even more then ever against the apocalypse. If I can't help repopulate the planet it will be the ice floes for me, I'm afraid. (Its really a shame because I have the Supersonic Sperm. I've taken to masturbating into Mason Jars and hiding them in strategic locations, just in case. Its liquid gold I tell you! Of course it was difficult explaining to my wife why the dog's face was covered with liquid sugar the other day after he unearthed one of my hiding spots behind the shed.)
But enough about me, lets talk about the Oilers and what they are going to do in February, next season and in the following two seasons with their roster. Here is how I have seen their plan unfolding for a while now.
This season the idea is to make the playoffs. Winning a round would be great but is probably unexpected.
Next season the club should be expected to be a higher seed. Winning one round is the minimum, two would be a reasonable goal.
The two seasons after that are the window to win. After 2012 Hemsky, Penner and Souray will all be unrestricted and Visnovsky will be a year away from returning to Slovakia.
Do we agree on this? I think its logical.
But ... throwing a wrench into all of this is the fact that its likely that the cap is about to drop, slightly next season, perhaps below fifty million the year after that. Going into that season the Oilers will have twenty nine million dollars tied up in Horcoff, Penner, Hemsky, Souray, Visnovsky and Gilbert and they will be looking to sign Cogliano and Gagner and they have to figure out Grebeshkov besides.
So this should be an interesting exercise. The Oilers' main concern should be whether or not a player will be able to help them win in 2010/2011 and 2011/2012. Lets go through the roster, starting with our centres.
10 - Shawn Horcoff - Starting next season Horcoff's hit is 5.6 per but the likelihood of him going anywhere is pretty slim. With three kids behind him, none of whom is likely to be able to do the heavy lifting anytime soon the only way Horc goes on the block is if Gagner and Cogliano prove able to produce big offence while at least one of them or Brodziak takes on secondary tough minutes. Then, maybe, maybe, the Oilers look to bring in a cheap tough minutes guy and move Horcoff for other needs but that would mean the same amount coming the other way in terms of salary. Based on the fact that Horcoff is the only veteran centre on the roster, was probably the Oilers' best forward in the run of 2006, is going to be on a fair sized contract and he has big fans in Hemsky, MacTavish and Lowe I would say the chances of him getting moved over the next four years are as close to nil as you can get.
89 - Sam Gagner - Gagner's underlying numbers show improvement even if his goals and assists are down. Gagner is the golden boy and they're not spending all of this time developing him just to throw him away. The only way he is going anywhere is if he's part of the price of a big name guy coming the other way. Considering he's a pretty cheap ticket this year and next I cannot really see it happening
13 - Andrew Cogliano - Cogliano is a guy whose name always gets thrown out there as possible trade bait. Considering the guy is improving, on pace for ~ 20 to 25 goals, is one of the fastest skaters in the league and a guy who'll get his nose dirty, even without the cheap contract I'd be loathe to trade him. He'll be around into next year at least I would say and I think that the future will see either him or Gagner moved to the wing. Once again maybe he gets moved for a big name guy but moving him for more contract would not help them meet the cap pinch down the road. Presently he is getting a whirl with some veteran wingers so maybe the idea is to see if he can handle some toughs
51 - Kyle Brodziak - Brodziak comes cheap and he does a bunch of things that a lot of guys on this team do not do - he kills penalties and takes faceoffs (lately he has been the go-to guy for own zone draws) and somehow manages to do reasonably well. Plus he chips in some offence. Cheap and useful means he is not going anywhere.
None of these guys is going anywhere this spring and I would bet this summer as well. The wildcard is Cogliano - he may be the guy who gets moved down the road as he is an attractive commodity. If Brodziak can fill that tough minute role or Cogliano cannot then they will need to fill it for 2011 and 2012 and then Cogliano will get moved to the wing or out of town.
Posted by Black Dog at 4:30 PM