GDB XXV: Coping with Kopitar

Jason Gregor
November 25 2009 01:14PM

If the Oilers can keep Anze Kopitar from lighting the lamp they will have a good chance the win. Kopitar leads the NHL in scoring, with 14 goals and 33 points, but when he scores a goal the King’s chance of winning is exceptional.

The Kings are 47-23-8 when Kopitar scores, including 8-2 this season. Kopitar is big, strong, highly skilled and he skates exceptionally well, but it will be interesting to see how he plays without Ryan Smyth.

Smyth’s style complimented Kopitar and he opened up a lot of ice for the Slovenian, but his new left-winger Alexander Frolov doesn’t play the same way. Frolov has more natural skill than Smyth, but he is very inconsistent.

Terry Murray benched Frolov for one game after eight unproductive games, and Frolov responded with eight points in his next six, and now he has one goal in his last eight games. He has played two games with Kopitar and has a goal, but it will be interesting to see how productive Kopitar is with Frolov instead of Smyth.

Talking with the media and management of the Kings, Smyth is responsible for a lot of Kopitar’s success. Oiler fans are well aware of Smyth’s consistent work ethic, and that, combined with Kopitar’s improved conditioning has Kopitar off to such a great start.

Assignment

I asked Pat Quinn on which defensemen he plans on playing against the Kings top line of Kopitar, Frolov and Justin Williams, and it sounds like he will rotate between Steve Staios/Sheldon Souray and Ladislav Smid/Lubomir Visnovsky.

Quinn is very comfortable with the play of Smid and he was happy with how Smid matched up against Rick Nash earlier this year. While Staios and Souray are a more physical pairing and should be able to negate the size of that line, Quinn and Tom Renney will give Smid and Visnovsky some time against them as well.

Coming off a 4-0 shutout win, there will be no lineup changes and no new lines. For one of the few times this season we will see the identical lineup in consecutive games.

Penner — Gagner — Hemsky
Jacques — Brule — Horcoff
Moreau — Potulny — Cogliano
Reddox — O'Sullivan — Stortini

Stone to return

Ryan Stone was put through the paces for an extra 20 minutes after practice today, to see where he is at. When I spoke to him after practice, he was a bit frustrated with his recovery. He is still feeling pain in his knee, and he is only doing skating drills at this point. They won’t put him in one-on-one drills until the pain subsides. He ruled himself out for this weekend, and said he is looking at possibly the final three games of the upcoming six-game road trip as a possible return date.

Robert Nilsson skated and he will have another neurological test this afternoon, and if he passes that then he should be cleared to play for Friday. He said he is feeling better and his headaches have disappeared. Even if he is cleared, I think it will be hard for him to get a spot in the lineup.

Marc Pouliot skated alongside Stone and Nilsson after practice, and it looks like he is about two weeks away. If Potulny and Reddox continue to play well it will be very interesting to see what Steve Tambellini does with his roster in two weeks, when Stone, Nilsson and Pouliot are ready to go.

The Oilers are being very cautious with Nikolai Khabibulin’s back, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be ready for this weekend’s back-to-back games v. the Sharks and the Canucks. Devan Dubnyk (Doob-nick) is itching to play and I’m curious if the Oilers will give him a game or two.

Dubnyk will have to clear waivers next season, and it is doubtful that he would get through, so will the Oilers give him a game or two? And what is the point of only a few games? If he plays well, is that enough proof that they could move Deslauriers, and if DD struggles in two games is that reason enough to give up on him? I think he will get a game or two, but I don’t think those games, regardless of how he plays, will be the deciding factor in what they do with him this summer.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 25 2009, 01:29PM
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if we are not in the play-off hunt come trade deadline, i can see khabi getting moved. to a strong east team that could use him or the detroit redwings.

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#2 E-Mac
November 25 2009, 01:29PM
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Oilers win 5-3. Gagner with 2 goals.

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#3 Pajamah
November 25 2009, 01:29PM
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Pouliot to be waived

Dubnyk to get no games in the stretch in which Khabibulin is hurt

That is all

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#4 Jonathan Willis
November 25 2009, 01:34PM
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@Jason Gregor:

What's your feeling as to which direction the organization is leaning on Dubnyk/Deslauriers? They've invested a ton in the latter the past few years, but Dubnyk's been better down the line. Any idea if they're thinking about reprising the three-headed monster?

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#5 Chamucks Deluxe
November 25 2009, 01:36PM
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@HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

He's got 3 more years after this one, that's stupidly unlikely.

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#7 c_tux
November 25 2009, 01:45PM
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I would expect to see Dubnyk play in either one of the back-to-backs. It makes sense to give him a good look, his AHL numbers are solid annd hell if both he and JDD prove to be consistent and reliable it would potentially allow the team to trade away Khabi at the deadline to fill the roster holes or free up much needed cap space. I know it's much too early for that kind of talk but those are my initial thoughts.

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#8 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 25 2009, 01:46PM
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Chamucks Deluxe wrote:

He's got 3 more years after this one, that's stupidly unlikely.

i thought so too when i wrote it. but you never know.

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#9 Tha Legion
November 25 2009, 01:48PM
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I'm promising a osullivan goal tonight because Matthew Barry is a douche

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#10 Jordan
November 25 2009, 01:49PM
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Jason, did you mention on your show a few days ago about a sports trip to chicago in april to see hawks/bulls game. Do you have a link for more information on that?

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#11 I'm a Scientist!
November 25 2009, 01:55PM
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Robert Nilsson skated and he will have another neurological test this afternoon

Umm, do you mean cardiology test? The boy needs heart!

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#12 Ogden Brother
November 25 2009, 01:55PM
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Unless Reddox/Putulny absolutly implode, I can't see Nilsson seeing Oiler ice again.

@ Gregor

When Stone is back, who goes down frist: Potulny or Reddox?

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#13 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 25 2009, 02:00PM
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i do enjoy and appreciate the d-pairing of lubomir and ladislav.

fun to watch, unlike the unpredictable plays from the likes of steve, jason, tom and denis.

i think the coaching changes showed how much lack of confidence tom and denis have.

that being said.

5-4 Oilers, goals from; dustin, ales, andrew twice and empty netter from shawn.

does anyone know exactly how long mike is out for ?

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#14 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 25 2009, 02:05PM
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I'm a Scientist! wrote:
Robert Nilsson skated and he will have another neurological test this afternoon

Umm, do you mean cardiology test? The boy needs heart!

*imagines Nilsson skipping with Patty O and Sean Avery*

Theyyyyy're OFF to see the wizard...

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#15 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 25 2009, 02:07PM
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dont make fun of avery.

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#16 The Towel Boy
November 25 2009, 02:10PM
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That king up there in the picture is forming up a nice Movember stache. Thumbs up to that guy.

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#17 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 02:11PM
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I really thought that the Oilers would've looked at signing someone to a one year deal considering how high the club seems on Dubnyk. Regardless of what he does if he is given 2 games I don't think that is a good measuring stick considering how much time we have invested in him.

Three headed monster to start the year is my guess.

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#19 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 02:14PM
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@Jason Gregor

Actually they didn't learn the first time, it took them two times to learn this.

What would JDD or DD garner via trade anyways?

Thank god I don't have to figure this one out.

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#20 Chaz
November 25 2009, 02:18PM
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I was out of town when Grebs got hurt. Can someone fill me in on how he got hurt and how long he is out for?

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#21 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 25 2009, 02:18PM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

i think the long khabi signing was done with a cup-contender trade in mind for the old guy. if not this trade deadline for sure next if we dont got our act together by then.

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#22 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 25 2009, 02:19PM
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i dont think resigning dubnyk will be that big of a concern.

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#23 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 25 2009, 02:19PM
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I'm glad to finally see a timeline on Stone. It definitely will be a pickle when he's off the IR, but from a cap-standpoint, waiving Nilsson would look awfully tempting...

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#24 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 02:23PM
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@HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

The problem is how many contenders are going to need a goalie? And even Det, although they need a goalie they don't need someone that is a cap hit no matter what.

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#25 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 02:25PM
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@Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

Sending one of the callups pretty much takes care of that.

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#26 AdamfromOilfans
November 25 2009, 02:27PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Unless Reddox/Putulny absolutly implode, I can't see Nilsson seeing Oiler ice again.

@ Gregor

When Stone is back, who goes down frist: Potulny or Reddox?

The way Potulny and Reddox have played, I think you have to wonder if it won't be Nilsson to be the next Oiler waived. Given how bad he's been this year, I can't imagine anyone is in a hurry to take him and his 2nd liner contract on, but then I didn't think anyone would bother taking a flyer on Rob Schremp either.

I figure #12 has zero trade value right now, so dangle him on the waiver wire, and then ship him down to Springfield if no one wants him.

Potulny and Reddox have both been far superior players for us in their call-ups, and Nilsson just hasn't given Quinn any reason to want to keep playing him.

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#27 jake
November 25 2009, 02:31PM
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JDD at 6'4" and DD at 6'5"......be neat to have them both in and playing well......Edmonton's own twin towers....

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#28 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 25 2009, 02:33PM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

AdamfromOilfans basically summed up what I was thinking. The commentators were talking last game about how much Quinn likes Reddox's versatility and consistency. The same really can't be said for Nilsson.

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#29 Jmask5
November 25 2009, 02:35PM
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Its going to be an interesting weekend to say the least. I think Deslaurier will play both games and then they can give him a day off on the road. Starting a new goalie at home is never a good idea.

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#30 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 25 2009, 02:37PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

The problem is how many contenders are going to need a goalie? And even Det, although they need a goalie they don't need someone that is a cap hit no matter what.

after the trade deadline, his cap-hit wouldn't be much. plus, with his age he could retire with no cap-hit on his remaining years.

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#31 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 02:39PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

AdamfromOilfans basically summed up what I was thinking. The commentators were talking last game about how much Quinn likes Reddox's versatility and consistency. The same really can't be said for Nilsson.

?

I never really said anything on Nilsson, but I would agree with Adam and yourself.

I was just pointing out that the cap really is a non-issue. I would think soon as anyone comes of the IR we would have too many bodies and have to send someone to the minors. The question then becomes does Katz eat 2mil and send Nilsson down or send Potulny or Reddox down?

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#32 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 02:40PM
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HansBaurMesserschmittWatson wrote:

after the trade deadline, his cap-hit wouldn't be much. plus, with his age he could retire with no cap-hit on his remaining years.

Because he was over 35 when he signed, Bulin counts no matter what.

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#33 Dan the Man
November 25 2009, 02:42PM
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HansBaurMesserschmittWatson wrote:

after the trade deadline, his cap-hit wouldn't be much. plus, with his age he could retire with no cap-hit on his remaining years.

Because his contract was signed after the age of 35 his contract does not come off the books if he retires.

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#34 freeze
November 25 2009, 02:45PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

Because his contract was signed after the age of 35 his contract does not come off the books if he retires.

Can't we just pull a New Jersey? If they assign him to the minors and he refuses, can't they terminate the contract? Who was it... Shanny?

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#35 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 25 2009, 02:45PM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

Ah, I misunderstood. I thought you were commenting on the fact that you could make room for Nilsson by sending either Reddox or Potulny back down.

If they send Nilsson down and someone picks him up, is Katz on the hook for any of his salary? I know he'd be on the hook for half if it was re-call waivers.

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#36 Dan the Man
November 25 2009, 02:47PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

?

I never really said anything on Nilsson, but I would agree with Adam and yourself.

I was just pointing out that the cap really is a non-issue. I would think soon as anyone comes of the IR we would have too many bodies and have to send someone to the minors. The question then becomes does Katz eat 2mil and send Nilsson down or send Potulny or Reddox down?

Potulny and Reddox are a lot more versatile, I'd really like to see the Oil waive Nilsson, maybe that would convince him to head over to Europe.

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#37 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 25 2009, 02:48PM
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@Dan the Man

i thought a trade voids that part of the contract.

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#38 Tracie
November 25 2009, 02:48PM
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@ Chaz

Grebs is out with a knee injury.

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#39 Dan the Man
November 25 2009, 02:49PM
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freeze wrote:

Can't we just pull a New Jersey? If they assign him to the minors and he refuses, can't they terminate the contract? Who was it... Shanny?

I believe if he didn't report they could suspend him and I'm not sure how that impacts the cap but I don't think it would count against it. No guarantee he wouldn't report and leave that money on the table though.

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#40 Dan the Man
November 25 2009, 02:51PM
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HansBaurMesserschmittWatson wrote:

i thought a trade voids that part of the contract.

Not that I am aware of, it's not really part of the contract though it's part of the CBA.

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#41 Ender
November 25 2009, 02:51PM
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Assuming Khabi is ready to come back in the next couple of weeks, my money is on DD riding the pine until he gets sent back down. This Oilers coaching staff has shown that it too is reluctant to play their #2 when their #1 is healthy. None of that suggests they're in a big hurry to give ice-time to the #3 if they can avoid it.

As to Khabi being moved, I think that's extraordinarily unlikely.

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#42 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 02:53PM
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@Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

Well I'm not saying waive Nilsson, because I'm not sure that Katz would do that. I don't put Nilsson ahead of those other guys in terms of play, but the contract is the concern.

And no only re-call is where we have to pay half the salary.

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#43 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 02:55PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

I believe if he didn't report they could suspend him and I'm not sure how that impacts the cap but I don't think it would count against it. No guarantee he wouldn't report and leave that money on the table though.

From what I gather a player could die and would still count against the cap is signed over 35. Yes I know that is extreme, but pretty sure that was pointed out when the new cba came in.

Still don't know what NJ actually did, because why wouldn't other teams try the same?

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#44 Dan the Man
November 25 2009, 02:57PM
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From nhlscap.com

Players suspended by either the team or the NHL will not count for the duration of the suspension as long as the player is not receiving his salary; however, teams must keep enough payroll space available to be able to accept the player should his suspension end immediately.

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#45 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 03:00PM
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@Dan the Man

Does that apply to guys over 35 though, that is the problem with some of the stuff at nhlscap.

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#46 smiliegirl15
November 25 2009, 03:03PM
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Khabi needs pilates, massage therapy and vitamin I (ibuprofen) to fix his back.

If JDD keeps up the good work, I cannot complain.

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#47 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 25 2009, 03:05PM
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35+ is old age for a player in the nhl.

i think any divorce of the contract after that age is not a cap hit, for whatever reason it may be.

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#48 Milli
November 25 2009, 03:06PM
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Can't wait for Stone to get back in the line up. Bye bye Bobby Nilson (too much skill, too little heart). Oil on a roll 5-2 tonight. Penner, Cogs, Horc, Souray and Brule!!!!!!

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#49 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 03:11PM
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@HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

The main reason the NHL did this was that the NHL did this because they didn't want teams signing guys to front loaded contracts where the player only intended on playing one of the years on a multi-year contract.

I.E. Give a player a three year contract where he makes 5mil in year one and 1mil in each of the other two years. The player gets his 5mil and the team only has a cap hit of 2.33mil, then the player retires after year one.

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#50 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 25 2009, 03:16PM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

sorry ninja, i dont follow.

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