Friday, February 05, 2010

A Fine Balance

Wait Til Next Year! Oh Right ...

What to do about next year? Years of mismanagement have put this club in a poor position and personally I think that next year is going to bring more of the same for Oiler fans, that is, another shitty team. There are too many players who cannot out perform their contracts and too many players of the same type. That is, not very good. At least, at this point.

The most frustrating thing about the last four seasons is that management has not put together the best possible club on the ice. Even the year they went to the final the season almost withered away due to poor goaltending. Now its gotten to the point where the problems are all over the roster and instead of needing a couple of players to fill needs the Oilers need many players to solve many issues.

So here goes. This isn't a fantasyland projection. There are no trades of spare parts for quality, no rookies stepping in and leading us to the promised land. I've painted with broad strokes in some cases, so many of these players are of the same ilk that you can substitute your guy for my guy and I think the end result is the same.

Truggles? Yeah We've Got 'Em

What types of problems face the Oilers? Where to start.

The goaltending is a mess.

The defence, supposedly the strength of the club, has regressed.

They have little cap room going into next season.

They have gaping holes up front. They lack size, players who can play both ways, quality penalty killers, players who can win faceoffs, experience

Up front they have a half dozen players who are smaller, mostly one dimensional, can't kill penalties or win draws, are inexperienced. And they have more on the way.

They just don't have enough good players. (Well, duh!)

Two quality players have only two more years before they become unrestricted free agents. One has never played a playoff series as an Oiler, the other has not in four years.

For Starting, This Is What I Am Doing

So I have all of these issues staring me in the face plus I have a handful of kids coming up that I have to work in as pros in my organization.

And a disgruntled fanbase.

So here is what I do, starting right now.

The following players are untouchable unless I get a ridiculous offer. Now in a few cases due to circumstance (injury, bad contract) I'm not getting any offers anyways but just so you know where I stand these guys are Oiler property for next year: Hemsky, Horcoff, Penner, Gagner, Stortini, Pouliot, Stone, Gilbert, Visnovsky, Smid, Chorney, Plante, Peckham, Petry, MPS, Lander, Eberle, Vande Velde, Nash, the Finn, Omark, Motin, Roy. So basically any kid with any value, any young guys who look like they can play a role going forward, even those who would be "easily replaceable" (we've seen far too many of those leave lately), our four forwards who are top six guys, Lubo and Gilbert.

I am trying to actively trade Souray, Moreau and Staios in order to clear cap space next season (and in Souray's case the next two seasons). I'm not giving up anything to get the deals done for Staios or Moreau. If I can't do it then I can't do it. As for Souray I'll try and get him dealt by the deadline, if not then I will do it this summer.

Bruce made a point in the last thread about the influence of Moreau on the room. Honestly I think that this is overrblown. I don't believe the rumours, having lived through the 'Wendel Clark is living with Toller Cranston' era here in Toronto. I think if it was as bad as is rumoured then Moreau would have been deep sixed long ago. I also think its moot and that they will find a spot for him, either now or during the summer.

I'll field offers for Pisani and Comrie. There is a small part of me that thinks I may try and extend them for next season but really that's sentimentality talking when it comes to Fernando and in Comrie's case I have too many guys I need to evaluate who fill his role. He's better than the lot of them but I need to find out what they can do.

If anyone wants Strudwick they can have him.

Moving these guys is going to open up some cap space and give me some breathing room. Its over fourteen million total. Of course I have to replace these guys but now at least I have some wiggle room.

I tell Quinn to play the shit out of the following players: Brule, Nilsson, Cogliano, O'Sullivan, Potulny, Jacques, Grebeshkov, Chorney, any callups brought up to replace the guys who got moved - the guys I especially want to see are Reddox, O'Marra, Colin McDonald.

And of course we need to see the two kid goalies.

Will the last twenty five games tell us anything that we don't know? Maybe, maybe not, hopefully for a few of the kids it will be a tell.

Come The Summer

Come the end of the season this is who I have on my roster looking forward. You can see plenty of issues of course. I have included guys who I am going to consider for next year's squad.

Goal - Khabibulin, ADD, Dubnyk

D - Smid, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Visnovsky, Chorney, Peckham

I have liked what I have seen of Plante and I'm a fan of Motin as well. And I definitely like what I have heard about Petry. All three will be in the minors to start next season.

F - Penner, Horcoff, Hemsky, Gagner, Nilsson, Cogliano, O'Sullivan, Brule, Stone, Jacques, Pouliot, Stortini, Reddox, MPS, Omark, O'Marra, McDonald

So yeah its a big fucking mess up front. And yes Eberle isn't on that list. And I know I haven't included this June's pick.

More on that later. Anyhow this is what I'm starting the summer with and believe me I am fully aware that O'Marra and McDonald are the longest of long shots.

More in a bit.


Halfwise said...

What would the fan base consider "success" next season?

(a) something that looks like a preview of the current Chicago Blackhawks date-stamped approximately 2007?

(b) a team that can beat Calgary?

or (c) something that says "the bleeding has stopped but the recovery is over the horizon"?

Personally, (c) is as high as my hopes go. The last 2 years have fed an awful lot of cynicism and doubt. I bet management falls short of even (c).

Olivier said...

I think the oilers should sign Kate Winslet.

Black Dog said...

Olivier - she's off the market, pal. I signed her to a lifetime deal. ;)

Halfwise - who knows. Traktor's point in the last thread was right on. Put together the best team you can in a smart way. By my eye that would be a club that would fit c) I guess. There's no reason that this club should be this terrible, especially considering they have spent to the cap but I guess the high pick will be a nice consolation prize. No reason for next year to be a repeat of this but with the clowns in charge ....

Bruce said...

Bruce made a point in the last thread about the influence of Moreau on the room. Honestly I think that this is overrblown.

Most of me hopes you are right, but the rumours are persistent and intensifying.

Anyway, as always, time will tell. A hell of a long fucking time, judging by the amount of time the brain trust is spending evaluating and deliberating.

spOILer said...

Speaking of shit, POS' ability to play all 3 forward positions has make him pretty attractive players to GMs dealing with injury, playoff drives.

His drawback is another year at a $3M caphit, but if there's a team clearing space this summer by having a vet winger turn UFA.

Chris Higgins' trade value was a an all-time low, but he was still desired. TO players were at an all-time low, but they were still desired. Okay, both instances did involve Sutter (how will we know when one of them has a stroke? They're gonna look and talk the same.), who always makes me think of "smart like tractor, strong like ox" for some reason. Still, he had never been afraid of gambling, and he knows what he has in Iginla and Kiprusoff.

I think we have to hope there are multiple suitors for a couple of these guys, and that Tambo can manage to play them off against each other.

This would make me happy for forwards next year, and assumes we get nothing back in trades other than some picks, B-level prospects, and sweet sweet cap space:


On the Bench said...

Pat, you didn't dwell on it but I think one of the biggest issues the team has going forward is the impending UFA status of Penner and Hemsky.

While next season can already be pretty much written off, unless there are great strides made the following season I can't see either of them sticking around for more of the gong show unless there are massive overpays involved.

Black Dog said...

O.T.B. - I'm going to address that in the next few days, I already have a post for tonight that mentions that as one of the big challenges going forward.

Stay tuned! ;)

spOILer - yeah I've thought of Higgins as well, I'm looking at goalies tonight, D tomorrow hopefully and then forwards

They just have too many of the same type of forwards, including POS, and he's one of the guys I think they need to move.

Traktor said...

"I think if it was as bad as is rumoured then Moreau would have been deep sixed long ago."

That's like saying, "If too many undersized players is actually a problem it would have been addressed already."

Traktor said...


Why exactly is Eberle playing 8 minutes a night on the 4th line with Stortini? Is that putting him in the position to succeed?

Is making a push for the 8th in the standings more important than properly developing the future of this club?

Eberle plays RW btw. Foreign position with shit teammates in a limited role isn't the best route to go.

Traktor said...

Manny Malhotra:

Turned down 8 million over 4 years from Atlanta last summer. Are we in the position to give that type of contract to Malhotra because he certainly isn't coming here for one year on the cheap.

Colby Armstrong:

Nice player but 30 teams are probably interested in the guy. Are we in the position to be the highest bidder because he's not coming here to win a cup.

Alexei Ponikarovsky:

60 points last year and is on pace for another 55+ season.

He's 29 years old and will most likely be looking for a home run deal that takes him close to retirement.

Is this a player that you want to give 4 million dollars for 5 years?

Gord said...

Bruce's rumours don't even cover the main reason many of the young players have no respect for Moreau...

Ethan has to go for locker room cohesion....

Black Dog said...

O.T.B. - actually I do mention it in this post

Gord - Ethan has to go but I'm not giving up an asset to do it, if need be I'll buy him out

Traktor - well, you're right regarding the small players, I still have to think with two different coaching staffs and two different GMs that if Moreau were that big a problem he'd be at least a scratch by Quinn

I could be wrong, absolutely, but is it possible they are that bad?

Never mind, don't answer that.

spOILer said...

Actually Traktor, I believe Eberle has played all 3 forward spots.

AND he would get 2nd unit PP time.

And somehow this strategy worked for Graves and Murphy and Gelinas. And Gagner earlier ths year.

The kid has the kind of mentality and drive that I think he will bull his way onto the team next fall. From everything I've seen, he wants to be the man, he wants the pressure and is willing to do what it takes.

I'm okay with him going to the A for some seasoning, but I doubt they will be able to keep him off the roster for the full year. I think his play will dictate otherwise. They almost kept him with the big squad last TC.

And... I sense a little bitterness over Cogliano's line placement.

spOILer said...


I think the only question with goaltending is what happens with Khabibulin.

Can they get out from under that salary? Whether by permanent LTIR or retirement/release (depending on how the "first year" clause is read in the CBA).

There are some cheap options better than JDD, for a 1A beside Khabi, if not. Should be do-able.

If we can dump Khabi, then solving goaltending should be even easier.

I'm pretty happy with the fact that they haven't resolved the goaltending issue yet, because the market appears to be in the buyers favour. We made the mistake of jumping into that pond way too early last summer, and had to eat our supper with wet pants on.

The Oilers may also be waiting for some medical advice on ReKhabibulin's recovery from the surgery before deciding what route to take.

And that's why Khabi's health is the big question. There would need to be a different strategy if he's gone.

Still wouldn't stop me from pressuring the Habs with a POS, JFJ, JDD offer for whichever keeper they decide to shop, though. ;o)

Black Dog said...

spOILer - I have a post about the goalies tonight, absolutely everything is dependent on Khabi; I think we're fucked pretty well

as for Eberle and all of the other kids up front, well I'm trying to figure that one out, I have nothing against having guys start at the bottom and work their way up, it worked for Datsyuk and Zetterberg

anyways, that one is to come

Bruce said...

Bruce's rumours don't even cover the main reason many of the young players have no respect for Moreau...

Gord: No, my rumours were pretty non-specific, mostly about a split in the locker room which a good captain would be trying to resolve rather than (supposedly) having an active hand in creating.

But I'd be interested in hearing what your "main reason" is.