Monday, April 29, 2013

The Lottery

I've written about this before. Luck. So much of life depends on it for better or worse. For me, well, I won the lottery when I was born. Thanks to Ontario's stone age adoption laws all I know is that I was born in North Bay to a young couple. An accident I was. He was a student, engineering of some sort, which is ironic because I can barely tie my shoes I'm so mechanically inept. She was a Bell telephone operator. Back then times were different. They chose to give me up and I was with Children's Aid for a couple of months until Jack McLean decided that I was the one for him and Shirley.

I always picture my old man walking by a bunch of pens, stopping at mine and saying that he liked the look of me and that he'd 'take this one'.

Of course things were different then. Dad bought our house when he was looking at the house next door. That one didn't work out but the owner said the neighbours, an elderly French couple, were selling and moving back to Timmins. He went over, knocked on the door and a couple of hours later came home and told my mom he had bought a house. No for sale sign, no real estate agent, nothing.

But that's the way it was back then. You could buy a house without a bunch of bureaucrats and hagners on making money off of you. And healthy perfectly fine (and very handsome) babies apparently abounded.

So I came home to a young couple and it turned out that I was the lucky one. I grew up in a house and in an extended family where love and patience and fun were the main things and so I got the grounding to become who I am today.

Luck? I could go on and on. Nearly everything in my life after 1986 has been determined by a choice made by a guy named Jeff Charbonneau. Its a long story but basically my path in school was determined by him and by his brother whom I lived with first year. And from there I got a job after school working in a video store and from there I met a girl whose sister became my love for two years. That fling with the girl from Rawlins Cross died but her uncle gave me an opportunity and 15 years later that opportunity became my career. As part of that opportunity I moved to PEI for a year and there I met a girl named Jenn and a dog named Ben and now here we are. All because this guy knocked on a door.

 Crazy. Luck.


Last year the Oilers won the lottery for the third year in a row and were actually lucky, moving up a slot to do it. They did what you have to do when you get lucky. They capitalized on it and picked the consensus number one. Nail Yakupov did nothing to show that they made a mistake in any way. He can score goals, which is the toughest thing to do in the NHL, and I would bet that he, like Hall, will be a superstar. (BTW I think Nugent Hopkins explodes next year just as Hall did this year.)

This year the odds were pretty long and they ended up with the seventh pick overall. Its an interesting spot to be. The feeling is that that is where the dropoff is and the reality is that (read Gare Joyce's book if you haven't) teams have their own boards. That's why Grigorenko and Fowler fell and Hickey got picked fourth overall. Which means that probably the Oilers will, if they choose to do so, be able to pick between a couple of those top seven guys.

So what do they do?

The mandate for MacTavish is to put together a playoff team. I don't think there is any doubt about it. He has a ton of work ahead of him to make this happen. The Oilers have finished out of the playoffs seven years in a row for good reason. They're terrible. And as a result they have a bunch of guys who have little value on the trade market.

 How do I see it? Untouchables are Hall, Nugent Hopkins, Yakupov, Schultz, Klefbom. That's it.

 But I have a long list of guys who I don't move unless they get a clear upgrade to replace them. Paajarvi, Gagner, Eberle, Horcoff, Hemsky, Smid, Petry, Dubnyk. Compliance buying out Horcoff or trading Hemsky for picks is a no go for me unless they have real replacements coming in to take their place. For years this club has moved out good NHL players for nothing or for less value and this is why they are where they are.

 Don't get me wrong. I'm not married to anyone on that list (although I admit I am a sentimentallist and would love to see Horcoff and Hemsky hang them up as Oilers) but I'm happy to move them if I see a clear upgrade coming in. The goal is to win after all. But this club is so thin that they can't afford any more trades of the Gilbert/Nick Schultz ilk. If you move Petry or buy out Horcoff you need a guy who can step in and at least provide the same, if not better.

 Now the good news for MacTavish. Last summer you could get a top four Dman (Michalek/Lubo) for a second round pick and this year the cap is coming down. When he had his first press conference and it became clear that there may be few sacred cows on his roster many got nervous but its probable that he can fill out a lot of his roster cheaply by trading picks or prospects to teams looking to move salary or by picking up compliance buyouts.

 What does he need?

 Two top four D.

 One or two top nine forwards. (Or three if they are moving a guy like Hemsky, Gagner or Paajarvi for another piece).

 A couple of fourth liners who can play the game. Think guys like McClement.

 A 1B goalie.

 That's a lot. But its doable. And imo, as I said, it can be done without dipping into the core of the team.

 And this brings us back to the pick.

 Seventh overall. Looking at guys like Nurse or Zadorov I think its probable, as I said, that they could have a choice between two of the consensus top seven because someone takes one of those guys.

 So what do you do? Well, four of the top seven are centres and I think they don't see Gagner as a top two C longterm. And Horcoff is getting older. And there are no kids on the horizon. So if one of those Cs is there (although Lindholm's size may scare them away) I think they have to take him unless the BPA is a W or a Dman.

 A lot of folks are saying the Oilers covet Lazar. True or not that's a pretty big reach and considering that they passed on Parise once to trade down and drafted Niinimaki another time they may be a bit gunshy about going off the board. (Although Pouliot was rated in 2003. People don't remember that though).

 But if that's the case and the Oilers are willing to trade down what am I looking at? Those teams between eight and fourteen who might have something to give up. Buffalo. Jersey. Dallas. Philadelphia. Phoenix. Winnipeg. Columbus. Non playoff teams that might want to move someone out that the Oilers can use whether that be to shake up their roster, shed cap space or shed payroll.

 What we don't know is what is going to be available on the market. MacT might find that he can get what he wants for very little and decide to keep the pick but if he finds prices too high or the available players not to his liking then I would bet that the pick comes into play.

 Me? I keep it unless I get a sweet sweet deal. I don't see that happening but maybe I'm wrong.

 But luck. Luck is going to play a part. Then its up to MacTavish to make it happen.


Calgarysux said...

Have you seen Tom Gilbert's stats this year? He's done just as bad as Schultz the elder here. Pretty obvious to me that trade is a wash by now.

I do agree with pretty much everything else you say, though. At the upper end we might even be able to trade with Nashville for Weber, although unless we draft a center I can't see that happening - not to mention it would also wreak havoc on our cap space in a couple of years. But, Nashville will probably rebuild now, they might hold a fire sale and we could get him cheaper than expected. I'd definitely trade next year's 1st for him, but not this years. Gagner + Hemsky + '14 1st rounder + a defensive prospect would likely do it. From a purely hockey perspective, it would be awesome to get him.

I actually hope Horcoff does get a compliance buyout, as well. There's a ton of guys on the free agent market we could replace him with, not to mention that Lander is knocking on the door from within.

Black Dog said...

Yeah Gilbert has struggled but Schultz is done. In any case we can disagree on that and look at the 25 trades from the last seven years for better examples.

Sorry Lander is nowhere near Horcoff. Horc is good for 15 goals, plays both ends of the rink, etc. as a top nine player. Lander is maybe a fourth line centre now. Maybe. They could replace Horcoff from without, sure, although I can't see Katz spending that money and then turning around and spending 2 million more (plus) to replace him

I'd love to get Weber absolutely. Problem is they can't trade him until July 24th or thereabouts, can macT wait that long? If he does and loses then what does he do? I can't see Nashville trading him anyhow, face of the franchise.

rubbertrout said...

Not only is Weber the face of the Franchise but Nash paid dearly for him last year in the form of a huge bonus that was payable over the summer. With that kind of up front financial commitment to him they are going to want to have him more than one year. They've paid for more than one year so they need to keep him for a while otherwise they have paid the expensive price for the first year and let someone pick him up for a large cap hit but less in the way of real dollars.

Jiminho said...

I know as much about the draftable juniours as a blind man knows about the coming weather, but Lazar looks like a really good player with a profile that the Oilers desperately need, but he doesn't look like the equivalent of Lindholm, Monahan, etc. So trading down seems like a poor choice unless a really good and young roster player comes back. A long shot I think.

So, why not trade up to pick Lazar? If Hemsky is the roster forward in play, as many have concluded is the case, I doubt he is enough to move up in the draft. I wonder if he can get (possibly packaged with a pick?) a mid-late first round pick? I'd hate to see Hemsky go to be honest, they'd be saying goodby to their scoring depth. But moves are coming and they have NOTHING with which to replace Horcoff, while they presently have three excellent offensive right wings.

Also, Lander is not ready.

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