Friday, July 03, 2009

Where Do We Go, Oh Where Do We Go Now?


I loved GNR back in the day, let me tell you.

What a band. You could drive, fuck, drink, dance or get high listening to their shit.

So now where do the Oilers go?

Basically they have no cap space. This is on a club that missed the playoffs and is, at this moment, probably a little weaker then the one that finished last season. No Brodziak. No Kotalik. Khabibulin and Roloson a wash? Lets say Khabibulin is a little better, just for kicks, although we all know what Roli did last year.

And next season only Pisani comes off the books and Gagner and Cogliano need raises and the cap likely drops. Plus you have to replace Pisani (even with Pisani for less money) so its not like you get 2.5 to work with free and clear.

Oh man are they in a world of shit.

So lets look at who is left out there and see what we can make happen.

Goal

So here's problem #1, paying over four million bucks and your backup isn't even a proven backup and your starter usually misses around twenty games. Remember he didn't finish the playoffs.

Damnit this is a mess. They could have had Roloson (and yes I did not want Roli for two years but I'd rather that than Khabi for four) and Anderson for the same amount of cash or Clemmensen and Anderson for less and would have been out from under the contracts sooner. As it stands now if Khabibulin goes down I think that the season will be a writeoff. Unless they move some money they can barely afford a guy like Legace to act as a backup.

Blueline

Too much money tied up here and they are talking about moving out one guy who might outperform his contract in Smid. Some nice options like Zanon and Montador are gone. I might be interested in Seidenberg to move into the top four.

Here is the problem and its not a bad one to have. They have a nice top six. Heck they have a pretty decent top four. But they have a lot of money sunk into it. Staios can't handle top four anymore and he's paid too much to be in the bottom pair so he really does have to go for starters. He can be replaced although there are not a lot of UFAs out there left that I like, even for the bottom pair. Maybe Bergeron will come back?

I keed.

That's number one and number two is whether or not they should move one of the top four guys (and yes that means Souray or Visnovsky) to get cap relief. I'm already thinking about next year (how's that for pessimism?) but moving guys like Staios or Nilsson is like putting a bandaid on a gangrenous limb. You have to amputate the fucker or the body will die.

Now having said that the D is the only strength of this club from last year so if nothing shakes loose in terms of forwards then it might be best to stand pat. If JDD is going to be between the pipes then you had better have some decent defencemen.

centre

What a disaster this is. Last season you only had two guys who could win a draw and who had a reasonable idea of where to go in their own zone and they turn around and trade one of them. So now they have Horcoff, a kid who cannot win a draw (worst FO% this decade, is that right?) or play D, another kid who is marginally better in both areas and a third kid who was in the minors nearly all of last season.

So if Brule is going to centre some sort of energy line and Horcoff and Gagner are centres 1A and 1B then the Oilers have four options remaining that I can see. Cogliano is the third centre again. Cogliano moves to the wing and O'Sullivan plays centre. Both of the aforementioned are on the wing and Pouliot is the third pivot. They go out and get at least one guy to help.

This is the one area where available guys remain who can help. Malholtra. Bonk. Moore. Peca. (again I keed)

If I were building the team I would have kept Brodziak myself but that ship has sailed. My second choice would be to sign one of the three just mentioned and then pick up Betts or Marchant or Sillinger to centre the fourth line and add some more depth. But I think that they have decided to go with Brule.

If that is the case then they need a veteran pivot to play heavy minutes who can handle both ends of the rink with a little bit of aplomb. Such a guy is going to put them over the cap or close enough to it that they have no room to manouver at all. So we come back to having to move some salary out.

If they don't find a veteran guy after last season's debacle, if they go into this season weaker down the middle then last season, which they are right now, then Tambellini should be fired right on the spot. Before camp opens.

Wings

Well first of all nix Heatley and you can pretty will forget every other high priced LW out there too unless they move a highly priced Dman or bury some salary in the minors. Even if Gagne were coming Philly is not taking any salary in exchange and I doubt Lombardi saw Penner that good to take on his salary for Frolov. Tanguay would be a nice option though he's not really a shooter and you would still need to dump salary.

Penner is problem one. You aren't moving him for nothing likely, you'll be getting a salary dump right back. Nilsson is problem two. Commenter Paper Designer makes the point that he is great value for a top sixer at 1.8 but the problem is he's in the pressbox half the time.

Quinn and Renney are expected to make the team perform better as a whole and I believe that they will be able to do that. I think the PP will be better because even MacT's most ardent defenders accept that MacT did not know the PP (cost us the Cup in '06, imo) and the PK cannot get much worse although this is down to personnel more then system, I think. Still even the coaching decisions with the PK last year were flighty.

But where Quinn and Renney will make their dough and prove the anti MacT faction right is if they can get Penner and Nilsson and Pouliot and Jacques and Brule to produce in whatever roles they are in. Not all of them will be Oilers but if those that are perform consistently then there will be plenty of I told you sos from Hunter and Traktor and others.

And in the end that might be Tambellini's only option after all. Go with the status quo. If Quinn does his job then the team will be better and these guys will have more value to boot. If he flunks out then these guys will be buried in the minors or moved. One year of Nilsson with his career on the line might be something a club chances.

Anyhow lets say for argument's sake that Cogliano goes to the wing. Well someone has to go and it would likely be Robert. He is easier to move then Penner.

I'd move Moreau and replace him with a guy like Fedotenko who brings more for around the same money or Moen who brings around the same but for less money. I'd keep Pisani because he can help and his contract is expiring. Why move him when he'll be off the books and will likely come back for less anyhow.

So you have your veteran line with Pisani and the veteran centre and LW, paid for by moving Nilsson, Moreau and Staios.

Your scrubs can be Jacques, Brule and Stortini with MacIntyre and Reddox or Pouliot if you like. I can't see why they keep MacIntyre around myself. Nice story but I'd prefer my players to be able to skate.

If you really want to make this team a little better dump Brule and Jacques and Pouliot and replace them with guys like Marchant and Pyatt and Betts. Add some guys who are established professionals, even if they are a little aged.

Forget about that Heatley fucker though. What a gongshow that is.

Anyway here is my team if I could do it - I think its pretty reasonable:

Tanguay-Horcoff-Hemsky
O'Sullivan-Gagner-Cogliano
Fedotenko-Malholtra-Pisani
Moen-Marchant-Grier
Stortini/Jacques

Sauer-Gilbert
Grebeshkov-Visnovsky
Smid-McKee
Strudwick

Khabibulin
Someone other then JDD

Now by Sauer I mean a facsimile of such - a tough minutes defensive guy. McKee could be had for very cheap for the bottom pair I would think and would help the PK.

If Tanguay comes in around 5.5m or so, Sauer at 2M, McKee at 1, Fedotenko at 2 and Malholtra at 2 plus your backup at 1M your team is actually way cheap so for those who loathe the idea of dumping Souray, keep him and you're still a better team and cheaper then the present collection. The guys I'm thinking about for the fourth line are not going to cost much.

Staios, Moreau, Nilsson and Penner would all need new homes and that might mean Springfield but considering there is a Rexall pharmacy on every corner and Katz is willing to blow a wad on 'the Heater' (give him the heater, the high hard cheese), that bum, then I can't see the problem.

You have a nice PVP trio up top, your best kids are still here (and Peckham gets more seasoning) and you have a 'bottom six' that would be no fun to play against.
I say Good Day Sir.

9 comments:

Swabbubba said...

I hear u about the cap. But I ain't no accounting wizard how about some buyouts:
captain Glass goes
Steady Steve can be steady somewhere else

Penner for all the griping he can play i say we give him a chance with Quinn if ain't working cya AHL.

Tanguay please no... Can I get some one that is over 6 feet and wide body that can skate... the Oilers don't need anymore small we need some big aggressive guys... u know like Mcleland these guys down in the AHL can fill this need lets deal for them... we can platoon the grinders in an out... maybe find someone like the dumbasses let go like GlenX
What about Saku for a centre? Is he anygood at the dot? maybe Stoll will want to come back after the breakup with Hunter?
Vish for Stoll and winger? Tghe brain trust needs to be thinking outside the box.

William said...

Hah, to have Marchant & Grier back... maybe Cogs could teach Todd how to score and Todd could teach Cogs how to win faceoffs!

As much as I'm on the bandwagon to get all the overpriced vets/underwhelming youngsters shipped out of town (trade/buried), I just can't see many other teams taking our deadweight without some coming back our way, or mgmt. being willing to bury more than one contract in the minors (I wouldn't mind being wrong on this at all).

Like you, I'm starting to envision status quo and pray one of the bottom 6 kids pans out:

Penner Horcoff Hemsky
POS Gagner Cogs
Moreau Pouliot Pisani
Jacques Brule Stortini

Souray + Vis
Grebs (wtf, sign the guy already) + Gilbert
Smid + Staios
Peckham/Strudwick

1st line that won't score like Heatley, but out-possesses everyone else. Pray that 2nd line eats the softs and that Gags wins a few more faceoffs. 3rd line takes on 2nd toughs, pray MAP can wave Ethan out of the circle. 4th line crash and bang and hope they don't get caught on a bad change. Man, just sign a cheap vet center to bump Pouliot & Brule down the charts and I'm happier. But here are my fears:

- We spend the whole summer whoring ourselves for Heatley, do F-all to plug our holes and just keep pissing Smid/Cogs off more.

- We MUST GET BIGGER AND TOUGHER! and end up trading POS in some stupid deal for Chris Neil-clone.

- Hemsky must be watching all this shyt go down and be thinking "get me the hell out of here ASAP". Gags starts dreaming about playing alongside Kane again. Cogs is already steaming. Smid too. Penner must feel loved. Gawd, other than Struds, is anyone happy to be here?

Unless we really blow things up, I think we're fcked for a few years because of bad cap mgmt, a broken locker room, and a perceived culture of shittiness/incompetence/desperation. There's a lot of damage control that needs to be done here, which is going to take a lot of slow, smart, painful steps. Katz & Co: stop trying to go yard and start playing small ball...

Bruce said...

Tanguay-Horcoff-Hemsky
O'Sullivan-Gagner-Cogliano

Sauer-Gilbert
Grebeshkov-Visnovsky


With a top 6/top 4 like that our club will get pushed around by every sqaud this side of Montreal. That was a problem last year, and now we're going to move Penner and Kotalik and replace them with Tanguay? And we're going to move our one ornery defenceman for "Sauer"? And we're going to demote Stortini to the press box?

Sorry, don't like it. Nowhere near physical enough. This isn't flag hockey.

PS: Fedotenko re-signed with Pittsburgh today. Too bad, he's a real nice player.

hunter1909 said...

I want them to beg and plead until Heatley says yes, because then Oilers have a terrifyingly balanced first line, one of the best in the NHL. I mean, Horcoff would have the perfect situation for his defensive skills.

On the other hand were Heatley not to come(likely I guess), I won't lose a wink of sleep over a bunch of millionaire pampered players(Cogliano, Smid, Penner). Penner for a start will see this as a motivational exercise, so might Smid, and Cogliano I don't really like anyway(seems too egotistical given his career so far).

Why would you, black dog, prefer 2 years of an ancient goalie, to 4 years of a better younger one? The logic seems unsound. Khabibulin is simply a better goalie, and is younger. This makes no sense, in July anyway. No way do they enter training camp without a legitimate 3rd line center, and a larger top six player.

I'm not too worked up about the Heatley fiasco. I'm a lifelong Oilers fan, saw nearly everything growing up as a fanatic of the dynasty, back in the days when OIlers fans were like todays Wings fans, knowledgeable and confident, instead of hysterical and deranged. All of us have a different and legitimate reason to feel peeved, but my main issue got solved with Quinn in, and MacTavish out.

And if you want to see a team in real hell, look no further than the habs. They're like snow white and the seven dwarves now.

Black Dog said...

Naw Bruce like I said you can keep your Souray. Actually I had you in mind when I said to do so. ;)

Sorry I don't buy this whole getting pushed around thing - three of your 6 Dmen and six of your twelve forwards all genuinely tough guys who can push back.

All you need is for your other guys to be hard on the puck. Like Horcoff. He doesn't get pushed around, nor does Hemsky.

The Wings are smaller than the Oilers or pretty close to it - they seem to be doing just fine.

And put Grier in the PB then for starters.

Hunter - Heatley has proven that he is all about him now though - I had doubts before but this last week has clinched it.

As for Roli v. Khabi I think there's not much to choose between the two to be honest. Except two years and a lot more money.

I hope I'm wrong.

And this team has gone into each of the last three seasons missing key parts, including no third line centre last season. I'll believe it when I see it.

Black Dog said...

swabb - I would bet that Penner stays if they can't get the Heatley deal done. Tanguay is the better player though.

William - I think its going to be pretty status quo in the end.

As for the guys who aren't wanted in the end they can just dump them in the minors or waive them if they please.

Oilman said...

You're right there BD - right now, Heatley is the only player that can be traded for Penner AFAIC. Who else out there would need to replace a disgruntled/underachieving left winger with Penner and save cap space while doing it?

Marc said...

If you take off the harsh coloured spectacles, it's really not as bad you make it out to be.

Goalie - This is the least predictable position in hockey. Khabi may become inconsistant again now that he has a contract and JDD may prove to be an AHL goalie after all, but Rolie's wheels might fall off now he's 40, Anderson may suck if asked to play more than 30 games, Clemmensen may be the mediocre backup he always appeared to be before last season etc. The important thing is that you don't sink too much money into your goalies and the Oilers haven't. $4.5M for the two of them is very reasonable and Khabi at his best is a top ten goalie in the league, so there is some upside. If JDD proves he can't handle it and Khabi needs help, there are plenty of goalies out there making between $1-2M that can be traded for and we're still paying less than Calgary is for Kipper.

Center - How many third line centers have signed so far? Malhotra hasn't. Moore hasn't. Bonk hasn't. Betts hasn't. Goc hasn't. Tambo read the market for these guys perfectly. The longer they sit on the shelf, the cheaper they'll be. He traded Brodziak for beans because he knows he can sign or trade for someone more effective at a reasonable price. The fact that none of these guys has been snapped up suggests he's right.

Wing: They are sticking with the Heatley chase because as Hunter points out, if they get him they'll have one of the best first lines in hockey signed for at least the next three year. If they don't get him they can add a Kotalik or a Sykora and see if a new coach can get more out of the PP and last year's biggest under achievers. It really isn't a bad fall back option. As Willis pointed out, scoring goals wasn't really the problem with the team so marginally better coaching and a bit of improvement from the youngest players probably puts this team in the playoffs even without Heatley or Taguay.

Defense - There really isn't too much to complain about here. Our defense is deep and filled with actual NHL players. Staios is overpaid and Strudwick is limited, but Vish is a stud, Souray is covering the bet, Gilbert has improved every year, Smid and Grebs are solid and getting better and Peckham a rookie that looks like he belongs out there. One more veteran D wouldn't hurt, but they are easy to come by and the organisation has a good track record of finding them. The D just isn't a major concern.

And while is worth keeping an eye on next year's cap, you shouldn't worry too much about it because the best teams in the league are demonstrating that that there is usually something you can do if you need to. Calgary managed to trade Vandermeer. Do you really think we won't be able to trade Staios next summer if we had to? Tambo found someone who wanted Penner this year with three years left on his deal, so he should be even more tradable next summer with only two years left. Souray's NMC expires next summer so we can move him anywhere, not just to California. IF we need cap space next summer, then we can get it. Our moves this summer should be about putting out the best team we possibly can this year. If we can free up space for next year (which is one of the good things about the Heatley deal - this year we're adding to our cap number by taking him, but next year, I guarantee that Penner, Cogs and Smid together earn at least $1-2M more than Heatley, which could free up space for Gagner).

We really haven't haven't had a bad off season yet. More moves are coming. There is every reason to believe that one way or another, the team that starts next season will be more solid than the one that started last season. That's the definition of a good off season.

Black Dog said...

Marc - yeah I'm complaining but the reality is I'm not too worried. I didn't see them getting the big name forward so nobody coming yet doesn't bother me. Hossa is a RW and Havlat/Gaborik are too injury prone to interest me in long term contracts.

I would have liked a little more aggression with Bouwmeester but for all we know Tambellini may have tested the water on that and found it to be a no-go.

And I have to think they are adding a 3C as you say.

Don't really like the Khabi deal too much - more the term than anything - but its better than JDD as the starter ;)

I hope you're right about the cap space issue - worse case they'll just bury guys in the minors I guess.

And if they add a 3C and another vet to help with the PK/bottom six then I think the coaching alone will help the team be better.