The Edmonton Journal had an article yesterday suggesting the Oilers should take a stab at signing Shea Weber to an offersheet. I don’t have to go on about it since we all know the story, but the Oilers became famous in the post-2005 CBA world for offersheets by signing Thomas Vanek to an offer sheet. When the Sabres matched, the Oilers eventually went after Dustin Penner, and successfully signed him when the Ducks decided not to match the contract.
So here are the biggest names available in this year’s RFA pool (assuming these players aren’t offered extensions before July 1st) that the Oilers could choose to target:
Shea Weber (D) – Nashville Predators
Steven Stamkos (C) – Tampa Bay Lightning
Drew Doughty (D) – Los angeles Kings
So could the Oilers sign any of these guys?
I think it would be tough for them to land any of these guys, as first of all, “it takes two to tango”. The players, themselves, need to agree to the offer sheet. With the Oilers being a last place team, it isn’t the most enticing situation to be in. However, a player might be able to project a bit to see that the Oilers are actually in a pretty good place now with several good players in the wings. They could also see that their own involvement could be enough to push this team over the edge.
The other side of it is: will the team the Oilers are sniping from match the contract? The Predators are probably the biggest potential victim here, as it’s unlikely that they’d want to spend to the cap at all, given their market. The Los Angeles Kings aren’t afraid to spend, when necessary. The Lightning have quite a few expensive contracts, but I think they would just as soon match an offer for Stamkos and find a new home for Lecavalier if they absolutely had to. I don’t much see the Oilers doing anything other than angering another potential trade partner if they tried it. But make no mistake, being successful in signing any of the above 3 would go a very long way to making this team a much more solid group.
What about cap space? The Oilers definitely should be concerned about that, when throwing out any big offers. They don’t want to follow in the footsteps of the Blackhawks, who were forced to give away solid pieces due to lack of cap space. The Oilers sit currently with about $14M in cap space. They currently have 3 very high-salary, overpriced (argue if you will) contracts in Tom Gilbert, Shawn Horcoff and Nikolai Khabibulin. Tom Gilbert’s $4M cap hit doesn’t come off the books until the conclusion of the 2013-14 season. Horcoff’s current contract ends after the 2014-15 season, and Khabibulin’s after 2012-13. This is significant because Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi all have their entry-level deals expire after the 2012-13 season. Ryan Whitney (UFA) is due for a new contract in 2012-13 as well. Even before that, the Oilers have to worry about Ales Hemsky (UFA), Sam Gagner, Jeff Petry, Devan Dubnyk and Linus Omark, who all have their contracts expire after the 2011-12 season. Kurtis Foster’s $1.8M expires after next year, and Jim Vandermeer’s $2.3M expires after this year. That will help out a bit.
Needless to say, if we’re spending the big money (I’d say MINIMUM $6M/year) to try and steal away a guy like Weber, that doesn’t leave a lot of money for raises. This leaves a pretty tough job for capologist Rick Olczyk. I’d imagine he has some figures in mind for several of the players listed above. Certain players will have a walking price, so to speak, in which case we’d likely let them walk if we can’t sign them for less than a certain figure.
I’d say that if we’re going to sign Shea Weber or one of the other guys to an offer sheet, it’s almost certain that we’ll eventually lose another big money player (ex. Hemsky). Perhaps our best bet is to try and trade for Weber using some of the names listed above (excluding the big 3 rookies), and then try and sign him. If we can’t manage to do that, you know we’ll at least get good picks. What to give up for that? Well, Hemsky and Gagner would be the better names in play for me. Names not in play would be the big-3 rookies, as well as the 2011 1st rounder. Most everything else would be considerable.