Onward and upward

Robin Brownlee
July 17 2009 10:55PM

heatley-done

Now that I've had a good cry after hearing Edmonton Oilers assistant GM Kevin Prendergast admit the team has "given up hope" in its pursuit of Dany Heatley, I will wring out my notepad and try to move on.

So, rest assured, will GM Steve Tambellini. Like Jonathan Willis, I'm not of the mind Tambellini has curled up in the fetal position muttering "Dany, Dany, Dany," paralyzed into inaction after being spurned. Not even close.

I don't believe that, while there remains a need for a finisher on left wing alongside Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, the Oilers can't fill the other holes they had in the line-up last season and make up for the devastating additional losses of Kyle Brodziak. Ales Kotalik and Liam Reddox.

Nor do I buy the argument Tambellini, Pat Quinn and Tom Renney will have a problem with Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid in terms of mending fences.

Yes, it would've been a bonus to dump Penner's contract, but I can't believe he won't be better, even sulking, under Quinn and Renney than he was after being repeatedly shown up and mis-used by Craig MacTavish.

Likewise, I see finding a way to better utilize Cogliano more of a challenge than soothing any hurt feelings. As for Smid, well, he had issues before he was tossed into the Heatley package. I'm led to believe he's past what had him contemplating a trade early in the season. He'll get past this.

So must the faithful.

ON THE TELEPHONE

What Tambellini needs to do, and is doing, now is work the phones to fill the holes that are obvious to everybody.

As for left wing on the top line, I'd like to see Tambellini place a call to Pennsylvania and inquire about Simon Gagne or Scott Hartnell. Or maybe he should ring L.A. about Dustin Brown. Alex Tanguay? Not so much.

Nothing that's happened so far has changed the fact Tambellini has assets on the back end he can trade. Denis Grebeshkov going to arbitration is a minor distraction, nothing more.

As for finding a handy, defensive-minded centre who can win face-offs and kill penalties, Manny Malhotra, as I pitched earlier this off-season, remains the best option, even if it'll take an overpay -- like that's stopped the Oilers in the past three seasons.

I'm led to believe Tambellini is looking to make a move to address that need and that, despite being focused on Heatley for weeks, he's kicking some tires. I don't have a name for you, but if he hasn't put a call into Malhotra, I'd be flabbergasted.

Free agent Blair Betts is sitting there, and has said he'd be happy to don Oilers silks. The Oilers have a passing interest, but they already have a centre who can kill penalties and win less than 50 per cent of his face-offs. His name is Gilbert Brule.

COUNT TO 10

I'm not going to take a "don't worry, be happy" stance here because I don't believe that signing Nikolai Khabibulin to a 14-year contract and jettisoning Brodziak to open things up for Brule puts the Oilers into a playoff spot in 2009-10. How much of an upgrade, really, is Khabibulin over Dwayne Roloson?

At the same time, I'm not going to lose any sleep over the swing-and-miss on Heatley, but you already knew that. And, as previously mentioned, I'm not willing to write-off PDP despite all the ragging I've done on him. If Quinn and Renney stroke him the right way, he could shove it to the critics in the coming season. Not likely, but possible.

The challenges we know, as does Tambellini. I'd suggest a step back and a deep breath over the next couple of weeks. Take the kids to Capital Ex. Go to Commonwealth Stadium and boo the Eskimos. Anything.

Let Tambellini do his job.

WHILE I'M AT IT . . .

-- Without face-to-face interaction on the internet, bafflegab has become the secret pinkie handshake among fans on message boards. In addition to nerd-speak like "playing the toughs" and "doing the heavy lifting" and "butter-soft minutes," we get the following lingo from somebody named PDO over at HF Boards in the ongoing debate about the value of acquiring Heatley: "Yes. We're a better team if he comes here," opines PDO. "Second he goes top cheddar on Luongo we all forget about how long it took to get him here."

Yes, the second Heatley goes "top cheddar" -- a shooter picking the top corner has morphed from going top shelf to top cheese -- on Luongo, I'll be buying his jersey. Can Heatley go "top havarti" or "top feta" on Luongo?

-- While I'm at it, is there room for interpretation of "butter-soft minutes," given the difference in texture between room temperature butter and refrigerator butter?

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every 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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#101 Robin Brownlee
July 19 2009, 12:14AM
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DanMan wrote:

@ Robin Brownlee: Explain the David Krejci contract then. I believe it was 4 years at 3.75 mil cap hit. This is what the market is for RFA’s. Kris Versteeg got more than 3 mil. If Gagner gets 60-70 points this year, that becomes a comparable.

I don't have to explain anything. If Chiarelli wants to pay too much, that's up to him. That's exactly what I'm talking about. Versteeg? You mean Dale Tallon's screw up? What does that massive overpayment have to do with anything moving forward. Weak examples.

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#102 kingsblade
July 19 2009, 01:15AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

What does that massive overpayment have to do with anything moving forward.

Really? Then why does everyone and their dog feel the need to claim Penner's contract provides a bad comparable?

I agree completely that another teams overpay should not apply during negotiations, but as long as at least a couple of GMs in the league believe they do, they do.

As for giving long term big contracts to young guys...this is the same pattern the NBA followed. It's the natural progression after implementing a cap. The idea is that because older proven guys cost money, you give less money long term to guys you hope will outperform their dollar figures for a large part of the contract.

ie: Superstar = 7 million and potential superstar = 4.5 million with a contract.

I don't know why I even wrote that since you obviously already know the concept. I just don't understand why you seem surprised about it.

In the NBA it got out of hand and teams were getting caught with even more bad contracts than they do now. Their answer was to implement caps on the money a player can earn and the number of years they can sign for based on the time they have spent in the league. Something else you already know.

It is really the only effective way I can see around the problem, because as long as their is a cap there will be GMs who are going to take risks on the future of young guys they believe in.

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#103 Robin Brownlee
July 19 2009, 08:25AM
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@ kingsblade: It's not that I'm surprised by it, it's that I see it as a bad way of doing business. For every relative bargain on any given roster, there's a moneypit player. or two, who is virtually untradeable because of his contract. You're right, though, there will always be a few GMs willing to take risks under this system, just like there was always a few GMs willing to spend whatever it took under the old system. In both cases, the kooks set the market. Bad idea.

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#104 DanMan
July 19 2009, 08:57AM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

Those may be weak examples, but at least I'm providing some. I found another: O'Sullivan got a 3 year, with a 2.9 mil cap hit after a 53 point season.

I'm just saying that it's unrealistic to think that we could sign those two for 2.5-3 mil per cap hit. The Edmonton Overpay will certainly come into effect. If Nilsson got 2.2, Gagner and Cogliano will be at least 2.8.

I'm just curious Robin how you feel about the Tom Gilbert deal. Did you like it at the time, and do you like it now? I really think Gilbert at 4.1 is a pretty big overpay as well, but that was a K-Lo deal.

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#105 DanMan
July 19 2009, 09:00AM
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Gagner is the one that really scares me.

Its a contract year, and the third full year is generally the breakout year for high first rounders. He's not Toews or Kane, we know that. But who is he? I think Krejci is a pretty reasonable comparison.

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#106 DanMan
July 19 2009, 09:12AM
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I've been looking around this morning to find if there are any players with similar production as Gagner and Cogliano, in their early 20's, and coming off entry deals.

There aren't many. I mentioned O'Sullivan, Mikhail Grabovski is another. Signed this year to a 3 year 2.9 mil cap hit after a 48 point season.

I can't find any bargains in this category of player, Robin.

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#107 Robin Brownlee
July 19 2009, 09:30AM
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DanMan wrote:

@ Robin Brownlee: Those may be weak examples, but at least I’m providing some. I found another: O’Sullivan got a 3 year, with a 2.9 mil cap hit after a 53 point season. I’m just saying that it’s unrealistic to think that we could sign those two for 2.5-3 mil per cap hit. The Edmonton Overpay will certainly come into effect. If Nilsson got 2.2, Gagner and Cogliano will be at least 2.8. I’m just curious Robin how you feel about the Tom Gilbert deal. Did you like it at the time, and do you like it now? I really think Gilbert at 4.1 is a pretty big overpay as well, but that was a K-Lo deal.

In just a few posts you've gone from talking about Gagner and possibly Cogliano being easily a $3M to $3.5 million cap hit to "at least" $2.8. Just the difference from $2.8 to $3.5, $700,000, pays the salary of a third or fourth-liner for a season. That's not small potatoes. As a GM, if you're always at the top of that kind of range, then you handcuff yourself $500,000 at a time.

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#108 DanMan
July 19 2009, 09:31AM
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Sorry for the multiple posts, I'm trying to work out what we will be looking at if the kids have decent seasons.

Here's a couple more:

Dave Bolland: 5 year, 3.375 mil, 47 point season. And this was before the RFA fiasco.

Valtteri Filppula: 5 year, 3 mil, 36 point season. And thats considering the Detroit Discount.

R.J. Umberger: 4 year, 3.75 mil, 50 point season.

Jordan Staal: 4 year, 4 mil, 48 point season. But this contract was an extention that he signed after a 28 point season!

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#109 DanMan
July 19 2009, 09:47AM
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Based on these contracts, (and the GM's can't ALL be stupid, can they?) if Gagner and Cogliano score 50-60 points, we are looking at 3.5 +, there's no running away from that.

I'm not saying it's right or wrong on principle, it's what the market will bear.

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#110 kingsblade
July 19 2009, 01:35PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

the kooks set the market. Bad idea.

I couldn't agree more.

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#111 DanMan
July 19 2009, 01:46PM
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@ kingsblade:

Who are these kooks? K-LO and Scott Howson?

Are you guys suggesting the summer of Vanek and Penner set the RFA bar this high? That just can't be.

Show me the smart, prudent GM's that got bargains for RFA's coming off entry-level deals. Guess what, there are none.

We cant sit here and say that they are all idiots, thats fine. But we should look in our own backyard before we start blaming Chiarelli and Tallon for the RFA dollars that are being handed out.

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#112 DanMan
July 19 2009, 01:46PM
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*can

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#113 Robin Brownlee
July 19 2009, 02:12PM
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DanMan wrote:

@ kingsblade: Who are these kooks? K-LO and Scott Howson? Are you guys suggesting the summer of Vanek and Penner set the RFA bar this high? That just can’t be. Show me the smart, prudent GM’s that got bargains for RFA’s coming off entry-level deals. Guess what, there are none. We cant sit here and say that they are all idiots, thats fine. But we should look in our own backyard before we start blaming Chiarelli and Tallon for the RFA dollars that are being handed out.

Actually, now you're flat out wrong when it comes to Vanek and Penner. The offer sheets to Vanek and Penner had a significant effect on RFA's cashing in. While Lowe's moves haven't resulted in a raft of offer sheets since, the threat is there and os is the motivation to lock up younger players for as long as possible. In my mind, you can draw a direct connection between the inflated salaries and terms being handed players coming out of entry level deals and the Lowe offer sheets. And, no, all the GMs aren't idiots, but they are forced to play within the framework that Lowe's offer sheets helped establish.

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#114 ryan
July 19 2009, 02:20PM
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Gagne is a 50 point guy he will probably never get more then that. If he doesn't have a good season and waits to score goals in the last ten games I don't getr him making the roster of any team. He's a midget and defensive liability so he can't play under the second line. One trick pony and his trick is over

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#115 DanMan
July 19 2009, 02:32PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

Robin Brownlee wrote:

Are you guys suggesting the summer of Vanek and Penner set the RFA bar this high? That just can’t be.

I was being sarcastic on this one, Robin.

Everything you just said in that post, I wholeheartedly agree with

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#116 PDO
July 19 2009, 05:26PM
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I'm a celebrity... sweet.

I love that I just got called an internet nerd for using hockey slang.

Maybe you should drop a few lbs (too many Cheesies?), get into the old cooperales and keep up with the times Robin.

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#117 Robin Brownlee
July 19 2009, 06:55PM
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PDO wrote:

I’m a celebrity… sweet. I love that I just got called an internet nerd for using hockey slang. Maybe you should drop a few lbs (too many Cheesies?), get into the old cooperales and keep up with the times Robin.

You're right, I should drop a few pounds, but that's beside the point.

I'm guessing you're perceptive enough to understand I was poking fun at the lingo, not at you in particular, which is why I used phrases like "playing the toughs" etc as generic examples in addition to your "top cheddar" as one more specific.

While it's obvious some people at HF love to play the victim and seem to enjoy getting indignant as hell in the name of banding together -- look at that has-been, MSM-reject Brownlee taking shots at us again -- a quick look at comment 50 of this item might add some context.

Even if the outraged whiners aren't interested in knowing the point of the item because that would give them one less thing to piss and moan about, you might be, since I happened to use you as an example.

We all use lingo, and I'm as guilty of it as the next guy. Anybody who missed the point in the item or in comment 50, well, TFB.

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#118 RobInALab
July 19 2009, 08:32PM
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Hey Robin, have you gotten a chance to ask Quinn any hardball questions yet? I'm just curious, because I've got the play-by-play mapped out in my head as to how it'd go down, and want to know if I'm right:

Robin: So, do you have what it takes to get the best out of Dustin Penner, and will you judge your coaching ability based on his success as a player?

Quinn: You can't ask me that... I'm Pat Freakin Quinn!!!

Brownlee: Sure I can, I'm Robin Freakin Brownlee!!!

Quinn: No you can't! Did you see what I did at the Junioers? I'm Pat Freakin Quinn!

Brownlee: I don't care if you're Walter Freakin Gretzky, I'm Robin Freakin Brownlee!!!

... ... ...

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#119 Robin Brownlee
July 19 2009, 08:39PM
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@ RobInALab: The only crack we got at Quinn was at the newser to announce the coaching hires. Aside from the fact I respect him plenty, Pat Freakin' Quinn has infinitely more juice than Robin Freakin' Brownlee, so I wouldn't be expecting that showdown.

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#120 Ogden Brother
July 19 2009, 11:42PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

DanMan wrote: @ kingsblade: Who are these kooks? K-LO and Scott Howson? Are you guys suggesting the summer of Vanek and Penner set the RFA bar this high? That just can’t be. Show me the smart, prudent GM’s that got bargains for RFA’s coming off entry-level deals. Guess what, there are none. We cant sit here and say that they are all idiots, thats fine. But we should look in our own backyard before we start blaming Chiarelli and Tallon for the RFA dollars that are being handed out. Actually, now you’re flat out wrong when it comes to Vanek and Penner. The offer sheets to Vanek and Penner had a significant effect on RFA’s cashing in. While Lowe’s moves haven’t resulted in a raft of offer sheets since, the threat is there and os is the motivation to lock up younger players for as long as possible. In my mind, you can draw a direct connection between the inflated salaries and terms being handed players coming out of entry level deals and the Lowe offer sheets. And, no, all the GMs aren’t idiots, but they are forced to play within the framework that Lowe’s offer sheets helped establish.

And, no, all the GMs aren’t idiots, but they are forced to play within the framework that Lowe’s offer sheets helped establish

Is that really a bad thing though? It certainly wasn't Lowe's (or anyone elses) responsibility to ensure teams could have talent on a 2nd, below market contract.

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#121 NBOilerFan
July 20 2009, 01:26PM
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Here is some interesting stuff from Pierre LeBrun from back on July 10th - This sheds some real light on where the Heatley deal is going... he will eb a Shark next year.

Speaking of Heatley ... Senators owner Eugene Melnyk went on Ottawa radio Thursday and suggested there's always the chance Heatley stays put and plays for the team next season despite his trade request.

That worked out really well for Alexei Yashin last time around.

So what are Heatley's options if the Sens don't move him? Well, he could always stay home and not report to camp, but I'm told he's simply not going to do that. He won't violate his NHL contract. But how do you repair the damage done in that market?

If I'm the Senators, I still seek out a trade all summer long. Murray told us Friday there was nothing new to report on the Heatley front.

The San Jose Sharks had some talks with the Senators a few weeks ago. At this point, Sharks GM Doug Wilson has yet to make the kind of moves we've been anticipating to shake up that roster. Mind you, there's a lot of time before camp opens in September and I've believed all along Wilson has viewed this as a summer-long project.

Still, San Jose just looks like the most promising option for everyone concerned in the Heatley affair. Sharks assistant GM Wayne Thomas is a good friend of the Heatley family, and imagine having Joe Thornton with 50-goal man Heatley at his side? Yikes. But again, Melnyk is angry he had to pay out a $4 million bonus to Heatley earlier this month. Somehow, the Sharks would have to eat a couple of Sens contracts going the other way and that's an issue right now. The re-signings of Ryane Clowe, Rob Blake and Kent Huskins put the Sharks close to the $58.6 million salary cap as we type.

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#122 Tyler
July 20 2009, 04:07PM
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Actually, now you’re flat out wrong when it comes to Vanek and Penner.

The offer sheets to Vanek and Penner had a significant effect on RFA’s cashing in. While Lowe’s moves haven’t resulted in a raft of offer sheets since, the threat is there and os is the motivation to lock up younger players for as long as possible.

In my mind, you can draw a direct connection between the inflated salaries and terms being handed players coming out of entry level deals and the Lowe offer sheets.

I love to blame Kevin Lowe for things as much as the next guy, but this might be the one area in which he gets too much. Was the Penner deal an horrific overpayment? Sure. Were RFA salaries going to rise anyway? I think so, because of the salary cap and floor.

If you're a team like, say, Nashville, and you're now required to spend more money than you otherwise would, how do you want to do it? Do you want to spend extra money on whatever UFA's you can convince to come to Nashville? Or would you rather spend more money on your own RFA types and buy out some of their UFA years? Enough of those deals and the market was changing anyway.

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#123 Quicksilver ballet
July 20 2009, 05:52PM
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Why is it that the phrase Lame duck Franchise is starting to suit us better and better all the time?

I'd be on the horn to Holmgren and start in on Gagne, i'd still do the Heatley thing if that ever happens. I'd poop can anyone not named Hemsky Horcs Souray Vishnovsky and Khabibulin, our top six forwards and top four defense are 75% of the team anyways.

Make any sense Robin?.....would that put us in the top third of the league again?

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#124 Robin Brownlee
July 20 2009, 07:35PM
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@ Quicksilver ballet: Uh, no.

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#125 Quicksilver ballet
July 20 2009, 08:43PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

@ Quicksilver ballet: Uh, no.

So you think a new goaltender will be the heart transplant we need?......guess it's just more of the same this coming season.:(

I thought the players were gripping there sticks a little too tight last year, this year may be worse.

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#126 HOFFA
July 23 2009, 10:50PM
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"Considering he’d like to play for Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics, does anyone else find it curious that Dany Heatley has said no to playing in two Canadian cities? Talk about writting a book on how to sabotage your public image."

:)

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