Budget Schmudget

By , August 12, 2009 8:48 am
Somewhere this album holds the secret to our money woes

Somewhere this album holds the secret to our money woes

* UPDATE: The Offiical Oilers site reports that Smid has re-signed for 2 years, Stone and Brule for 1-year on a 2-way contract (amounts not disclosed yet).

** UPDATE 2: It was mentioned in a post on Oilers Nation that Brule will receive $800K. Still no word on Smid’s amount just yet. But I’m guessing ~$1.5M.

So today Jim Matheson published an article about the Oilers being tight to the cap with little wiggle room. That spurred what will become the rant to follow.

The Oilers PK was a travesty last year at 27th in the league, despite being 5th in the league the year before. The loss of Marty Reasoner and Jarret Stoll being the most obvious reason for this drop. Many in the Oilogosphere have been suggesting that the Oilers should sign free agent forward Blair Betts or Manny Malhotra.

However, Dan Tencer broke our hearts on Twitter earlier this off-season when he mentioned that the Oilers were not interested in Betts. The reason for this presumably being that they would like to use the same system that failed them last year and expect better results. Or, to spin it more positively, they’re hoping that some of their current PKers can step it up. Perhaps a healthy Fernando Pisani (if this happens) will give the PK a boost as well. * – The Matheson article suggests that with the impending Ladislav Smid and Gilbert Brule re-signings (which he rumors to be $2.5M between the two of them), the Oilers will not have room for a guy like Malhotra or Betts. My response? Horse shit.

When we look at this line up, there are some names that stand out as players that are decent at what they do, but not great; players that are very replaceable by someone else, even within our system. Steve Staios, Robert Nilsson and Marc Pouliot are the three names that quickly come to mind. Because Steve Staios’ $2.7M contract would prove difficult to move and Pouliot’s $0.825M/year pales in comparison to Nilsson’s $2M/year, I’m of the belief that Nilsson is the odd man out this year.

I did a bit of research on Cap Geek with what I think would work, and well, cap geek confirmed that sans-Nilsson, we can afford Betts or even Malhotra. From what I’ve been reading around (other teams’ blogs/pages), I’d guess that Betts could be had at no more than $1.5M/year (some have figured even under $1M, but I’m not sure on that) and Malhotra at $2M/year at most. If anyone has any concrete asking price though, please provide details in the comments section below.

Anyways, here is my proposed new line up (based mostly on Steve-O’s suggested lines):

Forwards:
O’Sullivan ($2.925m) / Horcoff ($5.500m) / Hemsky ($4.100m)
Cogliano ($1.133m) / Gagner ($1.625m) / Penner ($4.250m)
Moreau ($2.000m) / Malhotra ($2.000m) / Pisani ($2.500m)
Jacques ($0.525m) / Brule ($1.250m) / Stortini ($0.700m)
Defence:
Souray ($5.400m) / Gilbert ($4.000m)
Visnovsky ($5.600m) / Grebeshkov ($3.150m)
Staios ($2.700m) / Smid ($1.250m)
Goaltenders:
Khabibulin ($3.750m) / Deslauriers ($0.625m)
Reserve:
Pouliot ($0.825m)
MacIntyre ($0.537m)
Strudwick ($0.700m)

Forwards:

O’Sullivan ($2.925m) / Horcoff ($5.500m) / Hemsky ($4.100m)

Cogliano ($1.133m) / Gagner ($1.625m) / Penner ($4.250m)

Moreau ($2.000m) / Malhotra ($2.000m) / Pisani ($2.500m)

Jacques ($0.525m) / Brule ($1.250m) / Stortini ($0.700m)

Defence:

Souray ($5.400m) / Gilbert ($4.000m)

Visnovsky ($5.600m) / Grebeshkov ($3.150m)

Staios ($2.700m) / Smid ($1.250m)

Goaltenders:

Khabibulin ($3.750m) / Deslauriers ($0.625m)

Extras:

Pouliot ($0.825m)

MacIntyre ($0.537m)

Strudwick ($0.700m)

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS

ROSTER: 23; PAYROLL: $57.046m; CAP ROOM: $0.754m BONUSES: $1.000m

So, what to do? Well, I’d say try and trade Nilsson away for picks. Ultimately, the best decision would be to send both Nilsson and Staios somewhere, however that’s obviously a very unlikely scenario. But if Nilsson can not be moved for picks, I would suggest demoting him to the AHL. Whether he clears waivers or not, we’re still better off. I know many won’t be comfortable with losing a player for nothing, but I think it would do more for this team to pick up a guy who excels at his role rather than hang on to someone who is average in their role.

IN OTHER NEWS: TSN reports that Nikolai Zherdev is expected to sign with Salavatovo Yuleav Ufa of the KHL, so we can forget about him on this team. Justin Pogge has been traded to the Ducks for a conditional pick (6th rounder or a 3rd rounder, I believe, depending on whether Pogge plays 30 games next year). Mike Grier returns the the Buffalo Sabres, having signed a 1-year deal with his former club. Cap Geek reports the deal at $1.2M.

18 Responses to “Budget Schmudget”

  1. Steve-O says:

    Betts over Malhotra. Cheaper and younger I think.

  2. Racki says:

    Betts will be cheaper, but they’re the same age and Malhotra’s faceoff percentage is considerably higher (and he’s maintained a mid-50s faceoff % for a while now). He also has the better offensive upside of the two.

    But yes, Betts should come cheaper (possibly way cheaper), and well, I think he would be a great option.

    I’m not really sure what these guys are asking. I honestly originally thought that Betts was asking under $1M, but I’ve seen some fan sites suggesting that the Rangers should re-sign him for $1.5M. So who knows. But either way, he should still be cheaper than Malhotra, and with us penny pinching, that might be the better route to go too.

  3. kej3210 says:

    Betts/Malhotra would be great but I think we need to keep Nilsson and give him another shot this year. He just might surprise a lot of people.

  4. Horpensky says:

    Although he doesn’t admit it, I really think that Tambo is finally “rebuilding” by letting our younger guys play, whether or not they can step up and win faceoffs or play PK. Under MacT, it was too tough to evaluate which players really have the stuff and put our player evaluation back a year, something that Tambo wants to see.

    We have tons of bubble players that would be given a fair evaluation now, (Nilsson, Pouliot, Schremp, Brule, JFJ, Reddox) and who knows, one of them might surprise us and play a good PK under new coaches. Also not to mention we have lots of promising up and comings (Eberle, MSP, Omark) that might surprise us in the near future.

    It’s all part of the long term development. Signing Betts/Malhotra might fix us for the short term, but then we will never know if any of our bubble players will be part of the long term solution (though I did think Brodziak was a good fit for the long haul…). My point being I’m willing to accept a crap season if it means a ‘tryout season’ for a lot of our bubble players and we can cut some of them throughout the season through waivers or trade.

  5. Racki says:

    Good points Kej and Horpensky.

    My thoughts though are that we still need a faceoff / pker on this team (See Copper N Blue‘s article for how much that can matter, especially on the pk), and as well we need to get bigger – whether players that fit this mould are in the system somewhere or otherwise. So in the system, we’ve got guys like Brule, Reddox, and Pouliot as *possible* guys who can fit that role. Pouliot’s percentage was 48.3% last year, so that is respectable. Reddox and Brule haven’t had a lot of experience on the dot to see how they are.

    As far as PK’ing ability, this is still a bit up in the air as far as the names involved in the Oilers system. I’m actually really surprised that Pouliot never really saw any SH ice time (just 11 minutes last year and just under 6 minutes the year before). Reddox has seen a bit more, and I would feel a bit more comfotable with him out there than Pouliot for that reason.

    Really I can see the need for developing players within our system, of course, but there is something to be said with going out and acquiring a player who has been rumored to be a small salary increase, wants to play here and bring all that we need already without having to push them off the cliff to see if they can fly. Blair Betts would be the obvious guy in this scenario because he’ll come cheaper than Malhotra (as Steve-O mentioned), but also has said he’d like to play here (he’s an Edmontonian, actually), has a near-50 faceoff %, is a big guy (at 6’3, 210 lbs) and was said to be very instrumental in making the Rangers PK one of the better PKs in the league.

    So if we’re looking at Pouliot who makes $0.825M/season who is still rough around the edges, or Betts *possibly* at a similar price, and possibly signable long term (throw an offer out at least, Tambs)… why wouldn’t we go with the safe bet? Develop the star players within, but these role players aren’t that hard to come by. However a guy with Betts’ size, and desire to play here isn’t easy to come by.

  6. Racki says:

    On Nilsson, we’ve got very similar players all fighting for a top six spot. I don’t see how Nilsson works into our top six anywhere at this point when we’ve got O’Sullivan, Horcoff, Hemsky, Gagner, Penner and Cogliano there already. And well, if Nilsson some how slides ahead of Cogliano on the depth chart again because we have no one better to play 3rd line center, I’m going to look back at this and wonder why the hell we hung onto a $2M average winger and pushed Cogliano down to line 3 when we could have had Cogliano in a better position and a guy who excels at PKing on this team.

    Btw, keep an eye on this post for updates on the Smid/Brule re-signings.

  7. kej3210 says:

    Very true Racki, but with Quinn in charge Nilsson has a lot to prove. and he has more raw talent than a couple of those guys I would hate to just give up on him for nothing. What would happen if we tried Hemsky on the PK? Teams like detroit have developed their talented guys like Z and Datsyuk into effective pk’ers. Why not attempt to do the same with Hemsky, it won’t be instant success but it’s worth a try and allows us to use our best player more often.

  8. Hockey Noob says:

    @Kej3210–You’re comment about Hemsky reminds me of a satirical Danny Heatley (fake) quote–The ‘real’ Dany Heatley/Edmonton conversion. Dany Heatley, “Hemsky? Come on man, get real. How am I going to play with Hemsky? Somebody has to back check and I’m telling you it’s not going to be me or Hemmer.” :P

    @Racki, I am not too surprised that Pouliot didn’t see too much SH icetime. Though MacT was know for some truly bizarre blender lines (Smid on wing, Reddox on 1LW, etc), my impression and correct me if I’m wrong, was that he actually went to great effort to shelter our younger players from tougher competition. Of course, SH situations involves playing against one of the other team’s two PP units which falls under the category of toughest competition.

    @Racki/Steve-O, I sure hope that we don’t see Cogliano at 3c this year, his faceoff % was the worst in the league for players that took an equivalent number of draws or more. As for proverbs, “if you’re in for a dime, you’re in for a dollar…” On that basis, I would rather see Malhotra signed if it’s $2million cap hit or less. Though I would be happy to at least see Betts get signed if this doesn’t happen.

  9. Horpensky says:

    We have so many bubble top 6 guys where it is either a top 6 role or nothing for them (Nilsson, Schremp, maybe Pouliot, etc). A guy like Reddox has pretty much accepted that he’s a bottom 6 player, but I’d like to see some of them develop into a player like Fernando Pisani, where they can play a third line role, but also easily slide into the second line if injuries happen.

  10. Racki says:

    Noob: Good point about wanting to shelter the young players. I kind of have to wonder when Pouliot will get a chance to make a name for himself though, as he’s got a few seasons under his belt. But the other thing for me is I sit here and see the same exact lineup as last year that failed on the PK and wonder what is going to make it magically better this year.

    Horcoff was interviewed on TEAM 1260 tonight and Jason Gregor asked him why the PK was bad last year. He mentioned that it needs depth in order to succeed. Currently our PKers that I would classify as good PKers are Pisani and Horcoff. And well, Pisani has had some health issues lately. Beyond that, we have Moreau, who (as much as I like the guy) just does not get it done effectively on the PK, and then some kids who have barely gotten their ears wet.

    The way I see it is we’re setting ourselves up for failure this year again by going with the same formula. I am kind of wondering if this is a year where they forgo the hard effort to make the playoffs and are just looking to build their prospect pool some more. If that’s the case, I wonder why there was even any effort after Heatley to begin with.

    I’d love to eat my words on this one, but they’re putting big expectations that a coaching change will be a miracle fix. I wanted MacT canned as much as anyone, but even I don’t think that it will make that big of a difference. I thought Tambellini said that last year they tried the experiment of sink or swim with the kids. So what’s this year, sink or swim with a new life guard? lol

    Sorry I try not to be a gloomy fan, but I just think there’s an easy fix out there.. I’d take it. Just my 2 cents.

  11. Hockey Noob says:

    Racki,

    I’ve always loved the saying, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.” In my mind, our precipitous drop from 5th to 27th in the PK is primarily a result of roster changes not coaching.

    Great to see you on Racki/Steve-O’s blog Horpensky! I think the problem with the youth movement (aka tryout) that you suggest is that we simply don’t have any vets to really mentor these players for some of these roster needs (PK being one of them). Overall, we’re pretty thin in terms of vet forwards on this team.

    From a development standpoint, I am not too sure that sending some of our young players to swim with sharks (even with a new life guard, lol) is the best solution. Easing them into the roll with some player support and mentoring would probably better than just sink or swim.

  12. Racki says:

    Hey Noob, yes, I’m actually in full agreement that the issue with the drop in PK is not due to coaching but due to the thin roster (at least in regards to PK). That’s exactly what I meant when I was saying “the same formula”. I am basically saying we’re expecting the same components on the PK to suddenly start doing better because it’s a year later. I mean really, let’s face it, if MacTavish had any specialty, it was the PK. Maybe bringing in a Betts or Malhotra for a year or two to mentor guys, as you maybe were suggesting, would be a great idea.

  13. Mr.Majestyk says:

    Yeah Noob. I think I made a point in another thread that I’d rather give the job of role player or face off specialist/pk’er to a proven vet. I’m not a fan of developing players to do those jobs. Sometimes we want a guy to be a goal scorer but turns out he’s never going to be that in the NHL. So, they need to work on other aspects of their game at the AHL level so that they can be that role player. I don’t think an NHL club has room for on the job training in those areas. Its just so much easier to just sign a proven guy than spend 3 or 4 contracts on guys who may or may not be the answer.

  14. Racki says:

    MrM. – Oh yah, exactly. Besides, there’s a guy out there who we can sign for cheap. Why penny pinch for say $250k? I know every bit counts, but come on… this guy (Betts) was one of the top PKers last year, is an energy guy, and has size. Malhotra would be a better choice, but he’ll likely ask for $2M or more, so I can sort of see not wanting to go with him, but he’d still be more worth it than risking it with some guys with very little experience in the role (let alone success).

  15. Mr.Majestyk says:

    What is kind of funny is that my last reply is pretty much what many people would say about Rob Schremp. He’s a scorer/playmaker who isn’t able to do it at the NHL level(some would say he hasn’t had the opportunity to prove this) and so he’s in the minors trying to do all the other things.

    For the longest time Oiler fans have been teased with the potential of a big guy like JFJ in the minors. He was able to put up good numbers in the AHL but when called up it was always a big donut. I personally believe that part of the reason for this was that he was doing two different jobs and it wasn’t so easy to swap whenever he got called up. JFJ in the AHL power forward, goal scorer. Gets called up, 5 minutes a night, checking role. I think for a while there has been confusion over roles on this team. Sometimes guy are trying to do more than they should and that doesn’t help things. Every guy needs to know their role inside and out and they need to be effective in it. If they aren’t, find someone who can do the job.

  16. chucker says:

    I can’t really argue with anything anyone’s said here. Pretty insightfull opinions.

    Tambi is in a tough spot. He can’t trade the vets yet because he doesn’t know what the kids can bring. I thought this was what last year should have been about, but as we all know, MacT saw things differently.

    The year of finally getting to see all these guys and clearing out the guys who had no future here is one year delayed. Tambi has no option on that just yet. This year there is no doubt that the Oilers are in assesment mode and there will be lots of movement during the year and after the year is complete. It’s unfortunate that this couldn’t have been the case last year, but I think it’s pretty clear that Tambi was not given full reign until the end of the season.

    So for now, we are stuck with basically the same team as last year in terms of vets and prospects. I do think Tambi missed the mark in not signing some character guys and by not trading some guys he knows are not part of the future here. I’m looking at Staios and Pisani here and likely Moreau, but you can’t gut all your vets without something just as good or better in place either. Having said that, this summer was the best UFA pool for depth players and role players I’ve ever seen and we sign a couple garbage men for the farm. I’m not really sure what Tambi could have done to move contracts as everyone is tightening up, but at the same time I wonder if he lost focus with Heatley.

    I honestly have no expectations about this year because it seems evident it’s an evaluation year. I expect the coaching to improve, but I truly don’t know if any of the kids other than Peckham and Chorney can step up and deliver.

    Again, it’s a shame that we didn’t get this covered last year. I guess a coach on his last legs has a different agenda.

  17. Racki says:

    Yah honestly, it does feel like we’re going for 2 “evaluation years” in a row. Last year should have been spent not just evaluating the coach, but evaluating the pricey players and some of our bubble players (Nilsson, Pouliot, Schremp – well hard to evaluate a guy that doesn’t play, JFJ, etc).

    Personally, I’m frustrated about the lack of motivation to get a stronger defensive component in here. While I was excited at the thought of getting a guy like Heatley, I know too that getting a faceoff/pker, a shutdown d-man, and a big forward would have been a lot easier to do because 2 of the 3 were UFA options, and the third could have been done via trade (say Nathan Horton, as an example). Instead, we put all our eggs in one basket, going for the home run hit when a series of doubles / base hits would have got the job done easier and hell… probably even more effectively. I’m not sure if Tambi and Lowe are aware, but the game is played at both ends of the ice.

  18. Mr.Majestyk says:

    Coulda, woulda, shoulda fired MacT 20 games into the season. I understand that Lowe and MacT have a strong relationship, lets face it, any other coach would have been fired long ago. In the end it comes down to winning. It shouldn’t ever be personal, it should always be about winning hockey games.

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