The Cheap Seats: you get what you pay for

Robin Brownlee
December 01 2009 12:01AM

Mercy, with the Edmonton Oilers firmly established as contenders in the 2010 Lottery Pick race, general manager Steve Tambellini is getting all kinds of free advice these days.

"Tank it," say some pundits, seemingly oblivious to the fact, as Jason Gregor has already pointed out, the Oilers are already well on their way to doing that and will likely succeed without trading anybody.

"Trade Shawn Horcoff,"  offer those in the No Clue Club, a segment of fans who believe Tambellini can simply wag his GM's wand and make his peers as gullible as Mike Milbury was when he was making genius moves on behalf of the New York Islanders like trading Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha.

"Just do something. Anything," say others, frustrated beyond words the team they picked to win the Northwest Division is destined to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year, tying a franchise record for futility.

And, finally, there's the Make A Big Splash Brigade, those who scrawl quantity-for-quality trades on the back of their lithium prescription slips -- why not trade Robert Nilsson, Steve Staios, Shawn Horcoff and Joey Moss for Ilya Kovalchuk? Why not, indeed.

Everybody has it figured out.

THE WAY I SEE IT

After the Oilers filed out of Millennium Place Monday with, not surprisingly, Ethan Moreau, Sheldon Souray and Dustin Penner leading the way before Tambellini spent 10 minutes or so looking like a deer in the headlights in front of assembled reporters, I took the time to have a coffee and scrawl down some ideas.

They're not necessarily big-bang ideas or revelations that nobody else has thought of. They aren't based fully in any of the existing camps, especially those looking for a full-scale tear-down of the roster and do-over with an eye to landing Taylor Hall -- or whatever Swiss centre the Oilers have exclusive scouting intel on. They won't rid the Oilers of spare parts and land a top-six forward in return.

They are, however, do-able between now and the trade deadline, and could address some deficiencies on the ice and in the dressing room based on what I know, or think I know, about this edition of the Oilers.

As important, the moves I'm thinking of won't gut the team long-term to address the short-term and vice-versa. They won't bust the cap and they won't have Oilers fans paying NHL dollars for an AHL product for the next 55 games this season on the way to 29th place.

ARMCHAIR GM

Here, in no particular order, is what I came up with.

-- Trade Moreau and Staios. I know, hello Captain Obvious. As I wrote last week, I believe the Oilers are in need of changes to their veteran core. Staios and Moreau are the most easily moved pieces of that core.

Tambellini can't move Horcoff's contract. He likely can't, and probably shouldn't, move Souray or Lubomir Visnovsky. That leaves the captain, who doesn't have enough game left to say, "Follow me, boys," with much credibility. Staios, who can't hide with all the minutes he's playing here. Give Souray the "C" and Ryan Stone Moreau's spot.

-- When Denis Grebeshkov gets healthy, assuming nobody else slips in the shower and fractures a leg, decide between him and Tom Gilbert and move one of them. Nothing new to this train of thought, either.

Gilbert's hideous start has hurt his value compared to last season, when some people thought him a rising star after a 45-point campaign, but he's got some cachet with teams needing a puck-mover. Grebeshkov might be tougher to move coming off knee surgery.

Pick one and move the other for a proven forward in the same price range. Preferably a centre who can win face-offs. With either one, it's probably best to wait until closer to the deadline.

-- Tambellini has put himself in a bind by giving Nikolai Khabibulin that four-year deal. It looks even worse today because Khabibulin's cranky back has kept him out for six games.

That said, he's going to be the guy for the next two seasons, at least, and that means Jeff Deslauriers or Devan Dubnyk probably has to go because both will need waivers to be sent to the minors next season.

I'm not of the mind Dubnyk has done enough, yet, to be a sure pick-up by on waivers by another team, but why gamble on losing one of them for nothing?

-- Trade Patrick O'Sullivan. As is the case with Gilbert, this is a move best made later, but it's one Tambellini should let other GMs know he is willing to make.

I'm of the mind Gilbert Brule or Ryan Potulny can bring all the offence, and more grit, than O'Sullivan does. Does O'Sullivan get Tambellini a shut-down defenceman who could play in Staios spot? I think so.

As always, let me know what you think.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 6 ring circus
December 01 2009, 10:53AM
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Can someone tell me where do the Oilers rank in season ticket pricing compared to other NHL teams?

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#52 RossCreekNation
December 01 2009, 11:00AM
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I don't see why people think the Hawks will move a Sharp (3.9), Byfuglien (3.0), Versteeg (3.083333), Barker (3.083333), Bolland (3.375) at a discount. First off, as N'CREDiBLE pointed out, its more likely these moves come in the off-season.

BUT, why do people assume they'll deal at a discount? Just because thet're in a tough spot and everyone knows they have to dump a player? Sorry, but I think not. There is gonna be a number of teams interested in any of these guys. Thus, they should be able to drive the price up. They're gonna be looking for picks/prospects & cheap young players. The only guy IMO that is of interest to the Hawks from the Oil (assuming Brule & Gagner are 'untouchable') is Cogliano (young & cheap, although a RFA).

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#53 BarryS
December 01 2009, 11:09AM
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Dan the Man wrote:

You place way too much importance on such a subjective stat as +/-. It could be due to the fact that you stay up all night posting on ON.

A bit of insomnia never hurt anybody. Nash is the only top scorer who is a minus. If he was in Edmonton, we would be running him out of town.

Plus minus is no more subjective than anything else in the NHL. Who got the goal, Gagner or the other guy. Seen many posts say Gagner, the NHL says the other guy. And any number of tipped goals are handed out on guess rather than knowledge, given camera angles or lack thereof.

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#54 BarryS
December 01 2009, 11:13AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Agree completly, the Kessel deal is blown way out of proportion. (That said though, if Boston ends up with Hall + another top 5 they will likely get whooped)

My only point was Boston did not make the move on their own but were forced into it by Kessel. This was in responce to a post about how great Boston's management was. That Burke chose to play the fool and offer two firsts and a second, is good luck, not good management. Good management comes in converting the drafts into useful players.

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#55 Ogden Brother
December 01 2009, 11:26AM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

I don't see why people think the Hawks will move a Sharp (3.9), Byfuglien (3.0), Versteeg (3.083333), Barker (3.083333), Bolland (3.375) at a discount. First off, as N'CREDiBLE pointed out, its more likely these moves come in the off-season.

BUT, why do people assume they'll deal at a discount? Just because thet're in a tough spot and everyone knows they have to dump a player? Sorry, but I think not. There is gonna be a number of teams interested in any of these guys. Thus, they should be able to drive the price up. They're gonna be looking for picks/prospects & cheap young players. The only guy IMO that is of interest to the Hawks from the Oil (assuming Brule & Gagner are 'untouchable') is Cogliano (young & cheap, although a RFA).

Hard to say, look what happens when teams are forced to trade.

Pronger, both to Edm and from Edm and Heatly for example.

That said, I think they will get a fair return, but the likely wont have leverage.

A Cogs+2nd or prospect for Sharp seems about right.

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#56 Ogden Brother
December 01 2009, 11:27AM
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6 ring circus wrote:

Can someone tell me where do the Oilers rank in season ticket pricing compared to other NHL teams?

Ha-ha

I know where this is going.

Want to know why you have to pay so much? Because you keep buying.

Only one guy to blame...

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#57 RossCreekNation
December 01 2009, 11:32AM
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@Ogden Brother

Different circumstances. The Hawks could theoretically put multiple guys on the market and see who gets the highest return. If you let everyone know Sharp is available, there's gonna be a lot of teams interested, particularily if its after the season. Sharp, Barker & Byfuglien should all draw good interest IMO. Bolland & Versteeg may or may not. I'll bet a loonie the Hawks do well.

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#58 Ogden Brother
December 01 2009, 11:35AM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Different circumstances. The Hawks could theoretically put multiple guys on the market and see who gets the highest return. If you let everyone know Sharp is available, there's gonna be a lot of teams interested, particularily if its after the season. Sharp, Barker & Byfuglien should all draw good interest IMO. Bolland & Versteeg may or may not. I'll bet a loonie the Hawks do well.

I don't know, it's pretty similar to Pronger part 1. The team had to shed salary, they had multiple ways to do it, ended up moving (by far and away) the most valuable piece and still ended up with pennies on the dollar.

We will see I guess.

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#59 Oilitsinyoutogive
December 01 2009, 12:33PM
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Great article and i agree with pretty much all of it...i have wanted Gilbert gone for a long time(mostly because of the value he had for a few other teams) Really im just not sold on Grebs yet either. I am for sure a fan of Stone over our "fearless leader"

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#60 TigerUnderGlass
December 01 2009, 12:38PM
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BarryS wrote:

I agree those moves are do able, Robin, but only if the other GM's get off they butts and make trades. At the moment, baring further wacks up the side of more goal tenders heads by their own defensemen, or more foolish hits causing concussions, I don't see much possibility for trades.

As well, how is Rick Nash at 28 points and - 8 even in consideration for the Olympic team?

And Penner at 30 points and + 11 not?

Seems to me, based on today, Nash is totally overpaid. I know, scoring sells tickets, but +/- wins games.

Exactly. I keep reading things like "Columbus is only doing well because of Nash" but Penner is playing better than Nash this season and we are still worse than they are.

Nash is a very good player but he cannot carry a team.

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#61 The Fish
December 01 2009, 01:47PM
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Who, pray tell, do you think we can get for Gilbert? There is no sane GM in the league that would take on a huge contract for the next 4 years for an average defenceman. On top of that he is softer than Charmin toilet paper. It doesnt help us getting 1 or two high priced third or fourth liners (as we will have to take on high priced salary to move high priced salary). It seems to me that you are getting hung up on his one 45 pt season, 30 of which were probably second assists. You have to come with better stuff than that.

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#62 Robin Brownlee
December 01 2009, 02:54PM
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The Fish wrote:

Who, pray tell, do you think we can get for Gilbert? There is no sane GM in the league that would take on a huge contract for the next 4 years for an average defenceman. On top of that he is softer than Charmin toilet paper. It doesnt help us getting 1 or two high priced third or fourth liners (as we will have to take on high priced salary to move high priced salary). It seems to me that you are getting hung up on his one 45 pt season, 30 of which were probably second assists. You have to come with better stuff than that.

And you have to start paying attention, smart guy. I had the Gilbert backers all over me last season for calling him overrated and pointing out those second assists as they were setting him up as an all-star in the making.

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#63 Racki
December 01 2009, 03:24PM
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I've been saying similar things as you for a bit too in your suggestions. Although I am a bit surprised that Moreau and Staios have enough value for a trade. I'm also one of the only wingnuts on the planet that likes Staios though, so I'm not completely sold on moving him yet.... however if we're going after a shutdown D-man in one of the other deals, then I'm definitely all for it.

I've also been hoping the Oil move one of Gilbert or Grebeshkov as well. If not for the sake of never seeing those two on the ice together, it would free up a spot for Chorney or possibly another defensive d-man. I'd love another Smid.... oh to have Hejda back.

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#64 The Fish
December 01 2009, 03:47PM
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@Robin Brownlee

It just seems like you have been playing whichever side of this Gilbert thing suits your rebuttal.

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#65 Robin Brownlee
December 01 2009, 04:00PM
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The Fish wrote:

It just seems like you have been playing whichever side of this Gilbert thing suits your rebuttal.

Really? Is that right? Is that so? Show me where I've done that. Even once.

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#66 The Fish
December 01 2009, 04:13PM
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"Gilbert's track record until this season has been fine and he had 45 points last season."

Direct quote from you.

"There's a GM who'd think he was getting him at a discount right now."

Direct Quote from you. (How can a 4million dollar player playing like he is, be a discount?)

"How many D-men in the NHL had 45 points last season?"

Direct Quote from you. (again with the 45pts)

You keep on quoting "45pts last season" and then saying: "I'm the last person impressed by numbers alone".

Walking Contradiction.

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#67 RossCreekNation
December 01 2009, 04:17PM
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@The Fish

I've never heard/read Brownlee waver once on Gilbert. And I agree with him. Gilbert should be moved.

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#68 Robin Brownlee
December 01 2009, 04:31PM
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@The Fish

Oooooooooo. Direct quote. So what?

Because you missed it, the reference to the discount isn't about what a team would pay Gilbert, it's about what they'd have to give up to get him in terms of players.

No contradiction whatsoever, but that's not really the issue here, is it? You've been by here before taking potshots and looking for an issue. You still don't have one.

Do it again and you're gonzo. Got it? Good.

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#69 willyfisterbotom
December 01 2009, 04:34PM
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The Fish wrote:

"Gilbert's track record until this season has been fine and he had 45 points last season."

Direct quote from you.

"There's a GM who'd think he was getting him at a discount right now."

Direct Quote from you. (How can a 4million dollar player playing like he is, be a discount?)

"How many D-men in the NHL had 45 points last season?"

Direct Quote from you. (again with the 45pts)

You keep on quoting "45pts last season" and then saying: "I'm the last person impressed by numbers alone".

Walking Contradiction.

theese look like half quotes in articles brownlee was pointing out positives and negitives of keeping trading gilbert

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#71 The Fish
December 01 2009, 05:09PM
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@Robin Brownlee

My only issue is that you are incredibly rude and dismissive of anyone whose opinion differs from yours. I actually enjoy most of your stuff to be honest with you.

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#72 JackBauer
December 01 2009, 06:25PM
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@Robin Brownlee

And his wife isnt too bad to look at either for a mid 30's fake titted milf.

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#74 Racki
December 01 2009, 06:43PM
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...with pics

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#75 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
December 01 2009, 07:06PM
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I must be the only guy on the planet who thinks Horcoff is actually tradeable. Pretty sure during the early summer Everyone would have considered Gomez and his 7.3 M cap hit untradeable especially after 2 disappointing seasons in NY. Sather must have worked some real magic because he ended up getting a pretty decent return and more or less ended up trading Gomez for Gaborik (If you think about it creatively of course). Unless Horcoff has or is going to have chronic shoulder problems, I think someone could end up picking him up because he could be a pretty valuable player to the right team. I would consider him to be more of a bargain than Gomez for their respective cap hits but then again I'm a Horcoff fan.

This was my first post on here but I've been reading blogs for a while and I gotta say Robin I'm a huge fan. You and Lowetide are easily my favorite bloggers out there. Keep up the good work man.

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#76 Heavy G
December 01 2009, 07:17PM
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As usually very good and valid points, Robin. Sorry for being of topic but I'm curious about what happens once a player who is still under a contract retires? Does his sallary still count against the cap?

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#77 Racki
December 01 2009, 07:28PM
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Heavy G wrote:

As usually very good and valid points, Robin. Sorry for being of topic but I'm curious about what happens once a player who is still under a contract retires? Does his sallary still count against the cap?

If the player's contract took affect at 35 years of age or over (ex. Khabibulin's... another good example is Chris Pronger for Philly who signed a 7 year extension at 34 but the contract takes effect at 35... the Flyers are going to be hating that one), then yes it does. If they are younger, than no it doesn't count towards cap.

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#78 Heavy G
December 01 2009, 07:50PM
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Thanks Racki. Now, all the Oilers management has to do is convince Shawn Horcoff to retire and all the Oilers problems will go away. Right? JUST KIDDING!!!

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#80 JB
December 01 2009, 09:09PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Dont be such a sour puss Brownlee. Now your threatening commentors with banning for not agreeing with you? Thats pretty pathetic, even for you.

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#82 Dominoiler
December 01 2009, 09:53PM
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"you're" Wrong... haha... A flashback from the Lowetide...

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#83 woodys destroyers
December 01 2009, 10:02PM
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hey robin i was thinking gilbert for ruutu out of carolina....about the same cap hit and gives us a jerk with talent..with corvo out i would be putting in a call to mr. rutherford we have a history of trading with them

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#84 Robin Brownlee
December 01 2009, 10:32PM
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@woodys destroyers

The Oilers wanted Ruutu from Carolina when they came calling for Cole at the last deadline. Rutherford wouldn't give him up.

I like Ruutu's edge. Oilers might have to sweeten the pot on that one, though. It would be Gilbert-plus.

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#85 RossCreekNation
December 01 2009, 10:42PM
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Always been a fan of Tuomu Ruutu... thus, I hope he doesn't come here ;-) Would be a good pickup IMO though.

ROBIN, did the Oil not also have interest in him when he was with the Hawks too? Fits the bill of moves this team seems to make - pick up players they've coveted for years.

Would Jason Chimera not be a good pick up as well - hometown (with a new coach), character veteran, 2-way/physical. Seems to me, he could replace Pisani AND Moreau in one fell swoop. Word is, he was available earlier.

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#86 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
December 01 2009, 10:46PM
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So what do you think Horcoff would have to do to be at least tradeable? He's already an excellent defensive center who's good for 50 points a season, 55%ish at the faceoff and is a very solid role model for younger players amongst other things. Does he need to put up 70 points to earn his money or become tradeable?

IMO he's not far off from earning his money, people have to forget what Katz is paying him this season and look at the cap hit.

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#87 Racki
December 01 2009, 10:47PM
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Ditto on Ruutu.. always liked him as well.

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#88 Robin Brownlee
December 01 2009, 10:51PM
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@Max Powers - Team HME Evans

For starters, he needs to get healthy enough to take face-offs. He needs to score at a 60-65 point pace. Even then, it's dicey.

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#89 Racki
December 01 2009, 11:05PM
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I kind of have to wonder how tradeable Horcoff would be right now (nevermind for the usual reasons that people give) given that he has trouble taking draws now, until he gets surgery.

A team would have to be looking fairly far ahead to want to pick him up, I would think.

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#90 PrettyPenner
December 02 2009, 01:22PM
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@Ross Creek

Jason Chimera would be a perfect pick up for this team. I agree

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