Monday, July 02, 2012

A Brand New Day

Summer has started off with a bang here at the McLean household. When you're young and fancy free between school daze and when you start a family as you wander down the road year after year the signposts are few and far between. Whatever holidays are important (say Christmas), maybe the start of your hockey season, maybe an annual weekend you get together with buddies to roar.

Once kids enter the picture then you'll feel like you're heading through downtown Toronto on the Gardiner. Blink and you'll miss your offramp.

Some days - Christmas, Mother's Day, Father's Day - grow in meaning. Others, Easter and Halloween, suddenly reappear after years away. Then you have your family vacations to see the grandparents (we go to PEI every summer for two weeks and also up north to see my folks for a week as well as a visit around Easter and near Christmas). Jenn's parents come in the spring and in the fall every year.

And with school and activities you have the ballet recitals and soccer playoffs and the start and end of each, the Christmas concert and the spring concert and the fun fair in June at the school. Plus Jenn has an annual gettogether with her gang and a run or two and I have a hockey pool and a tournament and so on. Every Christmas and usually once a summer we get together with two other families that we are close to and have a dinner and drinks while the kids run around. Today is the day for that, just before summer vacations begin and we all disappear for weeks on end.

Its a busy life but its a good one and I'd rather not have it any other way, even though it keeps us running. The kids wrapped up school on Thursday and since then its been full on. Friday night a barbeque with the neighbours. Saturday we visited my oldest friend and his family and had a nice supper and caught up. Yesterday the kids on the street had a massive water fight and afterwards we parents sat in the shade of a big old tree on the boulevard and shot the shit and had a beer or two. And then last night we took the kids out for our annual end of school dinner. They choose where to go and so it was Korean barbeque last night, celebrating good grades and a good year allround.


If you are a hockey fan then July 1st is a day that sticks out each year because its an annual orgy of ridiculous spending where teams overpay players in order to ... well, we're unsure what they are trying to do. Impress the fans? The media?

I'm trying to think of the big UFA the Kings had on their roster. Maybe Willie Mitchell? The Bruins obviously had Chara, signed years ago, and Chicago had Hossa and Campbell. The Pens had Gonchar.

 So the UFA route can make your team a lot better if you get super high end guys (derrrrrr) or if you are getting good quality guys on the cheap somehow but for the most part, like the trade deadline, you're getting a whole lot of sound and fury etc etc.

 The Oilers moves in free agency over the past few years have brought very little to make the team better. Khabibulin was a disastrous signing, the biggest blunder of them all. For the most part the Oilers moves have been small ones, thank God. They give lower end guys shortterm deals. You might complain about the fact that Belanger and Eager got three years but the money isn't ridiculous at all. Belanger was a good move that didn't work out and he may rebound this year. Eager was more iffy and one suspects he may be out the door but then again maybe he too can be more effective this season. The concussion he suffered derailed his season before it even began.

 This year the spending has been less ridiculous than usual although I expect the Suter and Parise contracts will be insane and that we will see plugs getting big money as clubs try and get to the salary floor a la Florida last season. The worst move was the Wideman one by far imo (although John Scott is up there), the best was Garrison by Vancouver. Guy has had two excellent years in Florida, one playing with Weaver, one with Campbell. Canucks have enough quality on their blue and team overall that he is going to excel at whatever role they need him in (shutdown or more offensive).

 The Oilers ... well with the Oilers (and all teams of course) we really can't rate them until the dust settles. They aren't done yet and they have a disturbing tendency to follow good move with bad (although the good moves are more frequent these days) but the last few days have been good to Oiler fans.

1/ The Schultz move was an enormous coup. He may bust but if he does it will be an huge surprise. The contract is perfect and he is a superb prospect. He is exactly what the Oilers need, a RH Dman, well rounded, big offensive upside, plus he isn't a teenager. The Oilers are a top four D away from having their best and deepest D in years.

2/ I wanted Ryan Smyth signed badly. He should have never been allowed to leave in the first place. A great contract. He can still play although one would suspect his minutes get reduced this season as he faded last year. He's a guy who can still play the toughs, slide around the lineup, play special teams. Good teams keep their good players and Smyth is still a good player.

3/ Yann Denis is a nice depth move. I want to see Khabibulin replaced but I can't see them burying him in the minors so this is probably the G depth chart.

4/ Hordichuk is a waste of a roster spot. Like MacIntyre before him (although Hordichuk is a better player than him) he didn't prevent the Oiler kids from getting run. What's the answer? Killer PP and I think an Oiler kid getting his stick up here or there to let people know they won't take it. If Hartikainen gets a spot it likely won't hurt either. Anyhow its a waste but one year for cheap is better than a couple of years or more for another guy who can't play so it could have been worse.

So what's left? Here's the depth chart for now :

C - Ted, Gagner, Horcoff, Belanger, Lander
LW - Hall, Paajarvi, Smyth, Hartikainen, Eager, Petrell
RW - Eberle, Hemsky, Yakupov, Jones, Omark, Hordichuk
D - Smid, Petry, Whitney, J. Schultz, N. Schultz, Sutton, Potter, Peckham
G - Dubnyk, Khabibulin

Too many players first of all. We know Omark is going to get dealt and that Lander will be in OKC but unless Paajarvi or Hartikainen gets shipped out, the club needs to make some moves.

I would like to see one more upgrade on D and I suspect that is the next move to come. It may be a move like the one for Lubo, for a guy like Streit with a year left on his contract, a guy to bridge to Klefbom. Or it may be a bigger fish in which case we'd see a roster player(s) or high end prospects moved. Rumours are Hemsky is being shopped again. I'd rather he stay (do I have to repost the Hemsky ones again?!?!?) and if he's being dangled he's not bringing back a healthy quality top four D at this time, not on his own anyways.

Another top four D would give the Oilers three good pairs if Whitney is healthy (big if) and Schultz Junior can step right in and play quality. Worse case if that is your third pair then you're not in too bad shape.

I don't think other moves are necessary up front (move out Omark and Eager and ship out Lander and you have 14 forwards) but I think we're going to probably see a couple of housekeeping moves and probably one or two bigger ones (including a jawdropper I am sure) before they are done.

Here's hoping they get it right.


calgarysucks said...

I actually finding myself agree with most of your article this time. :)

The Schultz signing was awesome. Ducks fans are supposedly pissed at the guy but they didn't seem to mind when they got Pronger in a trade very favorable to their side, so I say fuck 'em, they can go cry in their Mickey Mouse hats all they want.

As usual there were some ridiculous overpayments in FA this year. Wideman was definitely the worst but then we already knew Jay Feaster was a complete moron. If nothing else, we have to give Tambellini credit for his restraint in these matters. I also can't believe that glass legs Souray got $11 mill over 3 years. Anaheim is going to regret that contract, IMO.

Hordichuk may be a waste of a roster spot, but I think it's still worth signing him as there is also the school of thought that Renney didn't use him enough. I'd love to see Eager and Hordichuk on the 4th line as a 1-2 punch when we play the Flames or Canucks or the few times we play clubs like Philly or Boston, the bigger clubs that are most likely to run us over. It'll be interesting to see how Krueger chooses to use both Hordichuk and Eager this year.

If both players are underutilized again then there's no point in keeping either player around.

Anonymous said...

Here are some players I think Edmonton should look at. I do realize some or all would not be available or too expensive . But I would inquire .

Jay Bouwmeester

Fedor Tyutin

Nikolai Kulimen

Daniel Winnik

Bobby Ryan

Copperblueandwhite said...

Boumeester and Winnick would round out a great draft/FA season, was good to see Tambo et al stay out of the F/A Barkers or Belangers to weigh down the ship....maybe a three way with someone (CBJ) would get us Bou!!

Black Dog said...

calgarysucks - we agree? call the papers lol!

I was talking to a buddy today (Sabres fan) - of course they just signed John Scott after their season was derailed by Miller getting hurt last year.

I think guys like Scott and MacIntyre are absolutely useless. They can't play at all.

I don't think Hordichuk is not far removed from that level. Now Eager on the other hand provides a bit more or should. So we'll see what goes on there.

I think they need a quality PP and some more size up front and honestly next time a guy like Ott runs at Eberle he needs to get a stick in the mouth.

Eberle might get the boot and a couple of games off but Ott will never do it again. Dental work will make a guy (and others) think.

Black Dog said...

anon - I'd definitely inquire after all of those although Tyutin's contract is a bit much. But yes the rest would absolutely interest me.

Bouwmeester would be fantastic although I could never see the Flames moving him to Edmonton.

And LT has been pushing Winnick. Not sure where he fits unless they deal a couple of kids for a Dman.

Anonymous said...

How about this scenario ? for Kulemin

To get Kulemin would be tricky probably a 3 way deal.
Toronto wants Paul Stastny , Toronto would give up Kulemin / MacArthur plus a Dman for him.
Edmonton would have to convince Colorado to take Kulemin instead of MacArthur.
Colorado would trade Kulemin to Edmonton for ?

Anonymous said...

What I like about Fedor Tyutin is that he played for the
worst team in the league with a bad goalie and was a very effective #1 Dman. He might be underrated

Black Dog said...

anon - I like Tyutin as well, my only issue is the six years left on his contract. Its too long especially considering the kids will need to get paid.

I think Kulemin could be had and probably straight up but no idea what Burke would ask for. He is coming off an off year so his value is down but he's a good player. Anyhow no idea what the value is there.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply regarding Tyutin. I really enjoy your blog.

The cap hit is 4.5 M for 6yrs. I think that is very reasonable for a #1 D-man. I know his points are low for a #1 but it might have some to do with the team he is on.

The other thing is he is probably not available.

Black Dog said...

Thanks anon - appreciate it.

I wouldn't worry about his points he is what he is, more of a Smid type I think.

And the hit isn't bad per year, its just that term. He falls off a cliff because of injuries and you're pooched.

Too many guys to pay to pick up that contract, by the end of it you will be giving raises to pretty well all of the kids. Can't afford to take on risk.

My opinion.

dog said...