January 23 2009 12:30PM
Looking ahead to next season and how the salary cap, more than performance, will affect some of Steve Tambellini’s decisions.
JW doesn’t think a Roloson/Deslauriers combo is very reassuring to start next year.
Why not? Most fans want so many other young players to get a shot; why not Deslauriers? His numbers, in limited time this season, are just as strong as Roloson's. Roli's proven that if he goes long stretches without playing he can come in and be effective, and he is competitive enough to still want to push to be #1 next season. Add in the fact he will sign a one-year deal, for no more than $1.5 to $1.9 million and it makes perfect sense.
There is nothing to say that Deslauriers won't continue to progress. His mental toughness is the area he has worked on the most, and his size, agility and quickness make him a pretty good prospect to continue that curve. Having an experienced goalie to push him and possibly back him up is a good scenario for the OIlers.
Plus look at the salary cap. Unless the Oilers fail to sign Cole -- which would hurt them since they have no one in the organization that plays his style of game and can score -- I don't see how they would have the money to sign a top-end free agent goalie.
Horcoff adds $1.9 million to the cap for next year, and Smid and Brodziak will need a bit of a raise. Roloson re-signing for let's say $1.7 million makes up the difference of Horcoff’s increase, and then they will look to keep Cole for the same $4 million.
He has done nothing to show he deserves more, since he got $4 million a season scoring 30 goals... Even if he has a red-hot second half I don't see him getting to 30, so I'd be surprised if he got more even on the open market.
Contrary to some reports, his family does live here, and he made a back-yard rink for his little boy, and his kids and family like it here. I'm not saying it is 100 per cent that he will re-sign, but if the team continues to improve I could see him staying here. The fact that Hemsky is on the verge of becoming a superstar should have a positive influence on whether Cole decides to stay here.
Signing Grebeshkov will be more difficult. Don't undervalue is ability to the team. I like Smid a lot, but he is better suited to replace Staios than Grebeshkov. The Oilers will probably bite the bullet and keep Wanye’s favourite player rather than deal him at the deadline and hope they can re-sign him in the summer. He's an RFA, so unless someone makes a stupid offer they do have some leverage to keep him. Arbitration is probably where he will go.
Keeping him -- and I'm guessing $3 million a year is what he would be looking for -- means they have to rid themselves of some dollars elsewhere.
Staios (at $2.7 mill), and Pisani (at $2.5 mill) are options, and their contracts expire at the end of next season, right before the alleged drop in salary cap for the 2010–11 season, so that might make it easier to deal one of them.
Another option would be Nilsson, due to his $2 million cap hit. If the Oilers want to keep Grebeshkov, they have to free up at least $1.5 million to cover off the extra money he will get next season.
The Oilers don’t have much flexibility under the cap heading into next year. They already have $44.2 million committed to 17 players:
- Visnovksy $5.6 million
- Horcoff $5.5 million
- Souray $5.4 million
- Penner $4.25 million
- Hemsky $4.1 million
- Gilbert $4.0 million
- Staios $2.7 million
- Pisani $2.5 million
- Nilsson $2.0 million
- Moreau $2.0 million
- Gagner $1.625 million
- Cogliano $1.33 million
- Pouliot $825K
- Stortini $700K
- Deslauriers $625K
- MacIntyre $537K
- Jacques $525K
They have to resign, Cole ($4.0), Grebeshkov ($3.0), Brodziak ($1.3), Smid ($1.3),
Brule ($1.0, he was making $833K this year) and then a goalie Roloson ($1.5) and they would still need a seventth D-man. Strudwick for another $625K?
That would add $12.7 million in salary and put them at a $56.9million cap hit, which is too close to the cap ceiling and would handcuff Tambellini from making any moves throughout the season.
If the Oilers do make a push for a UFA goalie -- Backstrom, Thomas or another -- then they are looking at a contract around $3.5-4.5 million. If they go that route, then either Cole or Grebeshkov are gone for sure, and possibly both.
The best scenario for the Oilers is that Deslauriers gets in at least 10-14 games down the stretch and shows he is consistent enough to up that to at least 40-45 games next season. If he does, that allows them much more flexibility to sign Cole, Grebeshkov or at least a UFA player that can replace them, because they have no one in the system that is capable right now of replacing either one.