So a post on David Staples’ blog inspired this post here. This originally was going to be a reply, but I found that my reply was far too long and would likely have been passed over by most people.
Within theCult of Hockey post, Staples questioned what the Oilers should do with the cast offs (Souray, Moreau, Nilsson, O’Sullivan), and what holes the Oilers should be filling (and David provided his opinion on both matters). Here is my take on it…
I think the Oilers biggest priority is in net, but since we’ve got our “world class all star” in between the pipes, chances are they won’t go out after anyone else. We all know already how much I would have loved for the Oilers to trade and sign Jaroslav Halak. It didn’t happen, but I think that is one piece we’re currently short on… a young up and comer goaltender. I don’t want to bail on Dubnyk and Deslauriers too early, but nothing I’ve seen has given indication that these guys can help carry a team on any given night just yet. Most of this does hinge on Khabibulin here though. I do believe he is a good enough goaltender to keep us competitive… it’s just the injuries that are a huge concern here.
Second priority is for some d-men. Biggest priority there would be for a guy who plays a solid defensive/shutdown game with the added bonus of being physical. Zbynek Michalek would be nice here. With our top pairing of Whitney and Gilbert, I could handle seeing Michalek and a puck mover on the 2nd line (we’re out of those too, aside from the scary Chorney, it would seem… perhaps this is where a cheap Grebeshkov comes in), and then close it up with Smid and Johnson with the beloved Strudwick as the 7th man (from what I understand the Oilers coaching staff/brass love him and want him around for his leadership).
If the Oilers manage to unload the Souray, Moreau, O’Sullivan AND Nilsson contracts, they’ll be sitting in a very comfortable spot on the cap, depending on who comes back. If they’re forced to take a bad contract back for any of Moreau, O’Sullivan or Nilsson, I’d suggest either waivers or buyouts instead. The 4 combined account for $10.325M in salary.
So, according to the wonderful Capgeek.com, that would leave us with nearly $31M in salary, minus whomever we get for Souray (and minus whomever we get for the other 3 if they go via trade, or their buyout amounts if they are bought out). Unfortunately, we’ve got a lot of RFAs to sign, as well as a forward core to rebuild up (only 5 NHLers signed at this point without the 3 forwards above!). We’d also need possibly 2 more d-men. I’d say the combined 2 would cost around $6M, leaving $25M for the 9 forwards (that include notable RFAs Sam Gagner and Gilbert Brule) and 1 goaltender to field a roster of 14 d-men, 7 defense, 2 goalies.
At any rate, this is what I’d call a rebuild. I didn’t realize how few guys we’d have left if we dumped the 4 players mentioned. They’d have a lot of choice on how to rebuild the team.
If I back up a step, $31M is the cap space available for 9 players signed. A full roster is 23 players. So that means the average salary the Oilers could pay the remaining players is $2.21M / season. I think that would be more than enough for each player, as this roster is going to include a lot of min-salary guys or guys that are on entry level deals.
So really, I think the best move here is for the Oilers to penny pinch and be frugal when it comes to the RFAs they re-sign. They might lose some quality guys like Potulny (already rumored, although I’d hate to see that happen), but they could really fill out the team and balance it a lot better than they have by re-structuring their forward and defensive groups. This starts by unloading those 4 guys we’ve talked about all year. So let’s see that get done… with waivers/buyouts being a very viable option!