What's the big Biron deal?

Jason Gregor
July 24 2009 12:09PM

Between sending videos, speculating about three-ways (which would be better if they included girls), signing some depth guys and debating who is a better goalie this week has been surprisingly busy for the Oilers and their fans.

When the Islanders signed net-minder Martin Biron to a one-year, $1.4 million contract many claimed it was another missed opportunity by the Oilers. Why?4

Biron was available on July 1st, and while many fans felt he was the best UFA goalie available, clearly no GMs did.

Let’s look back at what transpired on July 1st:

  • Dwayne Roloson signs a two-year deal with the Islanders for $5 million. ($2.5 per)
  • Scott Clemmensen signs a three-year deal for $3.6 million with Florida. ($1.2 per)
  • Craig Anderson signs a two-year, $3.625 million deal with Colorado. ($1.81 per)

July 2nd, the Oilers sign Khabibulin for four years at $3.75 million a season. CBJ signs Mathieu Garon for $1.2 mill a year for two years.

On July 1st Biron and his agent felt he was worth at least $3 million a season, but no GM felt the same. Even the Islanders didn’t because they went with Roloson first instead of Biron.

I think it’s obvious that Khabibulin is a better goalie than Roloson, so it is perplexing to me why some feel that Biron, who was overlooked by many, is now a better goalie than Khabibulin.

The only reason anyone wants Biron is because of his contract, and he only signed that because he and his agent had overvalued his worth on the market, and the Islanders were his only remaining option. Biron wouldn’t have signed on July 1st for that type of money, and the Oilers didn’t have him in their top three UFA goalies.

And the argument that Khabibulin might get injured is void since Biron has had injury problems as well; starting only 31 games after the lockout and then 34 in 2006/2007.

Sure the 4th year of Khabibulin’s contract is a risk, but by then if one of JDD or DD isn’t ready to play then they have a problem, but they have a few years to figure that out. Khabibulin has a good reputation of being able to work with young goalies, and he admitted on my radio show that 55-60 games is the ideal number he’d like to play. That gives JDD round 25 to maybe 30 games to prove he can play. If he falters then DD gets a shot, so to me this is the best situation, not to mention that Khabibulin is a better goalie than Biron, regardless of the contract.

HEATLEY/MARLEAU

Videos aside it seems like a long shot to have #15 come to Edmonton, but don’t expect the alleged three-way deal involving Marleau to include Cogliano. The Oilers won’t give up Smid, Cogliano and Penner to Ottawa if they are getting Marleau in return. He only has one-year left on his deal, and giving up Cogliano for a guy that could leave for nothing after one year isn’t going to happen.

If the Oilers do nothing to address the void on the first line LW, look for Cogliano to get a shot. If he moves to the wing it will be on the left side. If he shows during the preseason that he has improved his faceoffs he might stay in the middle, but if he hasn’t they will move him to the LW, and along with O’Sullivan, Penner and Nilsson they will audition for the first line spot.

If Penner doesn’t come to camp with a renewed vigor he’ll find himself on the 3rd line very quickly. And I’m not certain it is a lock that Pisani and Moreau will be bookends on the 3rd line. One of them might find themselves on the 4th line, but still a key PK guy.

MORE DEPTH

The Oilers re-signed another depth player in Colin McDonald. Expect an announcement next week.

McDonald is another underachieving pick from 2003. The 2nd rounder was taken 51st overall and after four average seasons at Providence College he has played the past two seasons in Springfield, excluding a short three game stint in the ECHL last year.

McDonald had 12 goals and 23 points in 2008, and last year had 10 goals and 22 points in Springfield. If you’re looking for improvement it would be in the form of his +/_. Last year he was only -8 after a dreadful -23 in his rookie campaign in the AHL.

The only role I can see McDonald fitting into as an Oiler would be to replace Pisani down the road. He isn’t a flashy player, is a bit more physical than Pisani, but doesn’t have as good of a shot.

McDonald signed a one-year deal, and if he doesn’t show significant improvement this year, I don't see why the Oilers would re-sign him next season.

The Oilers aren’t done re-tooling Springfield. Ryan Potulny is on the verge of a deal, and while he’ll get a look in camp, they expect him in Springfield. Bryan Young, Charles Linglett and Jamie Bates have signed AHL contracts with Springfield and look for the Oilers to lock up another veteran soon.

Eric Boguniecki is on their radar, so is Wyatt Smith and a few other AHL veterans.

Many believe it is a slam dunk that the Oilers will move their AHL franchise to Oklahoma City next year, but it’s not for sure just yet.

The Oilers have been to OKC and checked out the Ford Centre, and that’s where the yield sign comes in. The Ford Center needs some renovations, and if they aren’t done by this time next year, then the Oilers won’t move their AHL team there. The geography works out for them, but right now the facility is not up to par. If city council approves the renovations then I’d bet it’s a for sure that the Oilers end up there, but they won’t go if the facility is not renovated by next year.

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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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#101 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
July 24 2009, 08:14PM
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@ Hemmertime: I dont think so, once I give them up I will not be going back,plus most games are free on TV I dont have to freeeze my ass I can stay home and watch.

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#102 Dallas
July 24 2009, 09:18PM
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@ oilersseasonticketholdersince99: I would watch what you are saying you start doing that and everyone else starts doing that and there won't be so many free games in tv

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#103 gdawg
July 24 2009, 10:05PM
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oiler games are now the place to be seen. sure many at the games are diehard fans, but now there are many who are there to brag about their hummers, show off the escort they rented for the night and basically inflate their egos with all the other posuers. Thats fine with me because I thought when the oil kings came into existence that would be the solution a guy like me (working stiff with 2 kids) could latch onto. Boy was I wrong. the oilers in all their brilliance outpriced most of the WHL in ticket prices. And up until mid last season full price parking was also lumped on us. Yes, I know the team is running a business and that it is not cheap to operate out of rexall, but isnt it time the oilers realize they are still excluding many fans from any sort of major hockey. These kids are your future season ticket holders potentially, why alienate them from the get go?

As for the games on TV, that is another area the oilers could show some loyalty to fans. I am pleased that there are so many games on TV, but special nights like the Glenn Anderson night should be on TV, not PPV. Its special to recognize these players, but why limit the number of fans who want to watch it? I know the Oilers want to capitalize on these events, but does it always have to be that way?

I know my rant has gotten off topic but I felt this was a good forum to get this off my chest. The Oilers are starting to look a lot like the leafs. A mediocre team that sells out, makes money, alienates grassroot fans and really doesnt care about success. Either way, win or lose they know they will make money and this town will worship them.

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#104 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
July 24 2009, 10:22PM
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@ gdawg: I agree with you 100%. The thing is they better start listing to the fans or the oilers will be hard pressed getting fans in the seats,I hear it from other ticket holders that they are giving this team only a few more years and then they are going to spend their money elsewhere.

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#105 gdawg
July 24 2009, 10:30PM
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@ oilersseasonticketholdersince99: ya its a shame that the oilers just assume what the fans want and shove it down our throats. People are paying good money to get the same experience each season. The oilers made it a big pr move when they renovated the dressing room like it was going to enhance the fans experience. Yes thats a perk for a player, but what about the fans. Gregor always says even simple things like the music at games could be improved. This game night presentation needs to be polished up a bit. Maybe pull off a few gimmick nights to bring back the fun. Giving away free bags of perogies doesnt quite cut it anymore does it?

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#106 ronaldo
July 24 2009, 10:41PM
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I actually find the biggest problem at the game is the fans themselves. I'm not that old by any stretch, but I don't want to listen to lame one-liner guy spouting off nonstop with every second word an f-bomb. And there is too many of this guy to ignore. Doesn't feel like a place I would want to bring kids. Not sure if I'm the only one who feels this way but I doubt it.

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#107 gdawg
July 25 2009, 12:10AM
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@ ronaldo: I tried to bring my kids to a game and ran into this problem as well. One guy took cheering to an obnoxious level and was told so by an older fan. He and his two friends went out of their way to increase this behavior and direct it at this lady and her husband. Its a shame when a few of these "fans" can ruin a game for multiple rows of fans. Booze has a huge role in some of these public displays, while other times it is some guy who thinks because he bought a ticket he has the right to act however he wants. But these people dont just act like that at games. they are the guy yelling at the counter girl at tim hortons, road raging, talking on his cell at the movies and of course probably "celebrating" oiler playoff victories on whyte ave in 2006. If only Northlands and the Oilers had zero tolerance with individuals like this. Cheering for your team is one thing, but acting like a complete moron shouldn't be put up with. escort this guy out while at the same time putting this up on the jumbotron, making an example of the guy and maybe shaming him in the process.

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#108 Wace
July 25 2009, 02:13AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

To Ott: Penner/Smid/SJ1st To SJ: Heatly To Edm: Marleau

the oilers better get another player cause Marleau could walk after this year 2....

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#109 Hemmertime
July 25 2009, 10:03AM
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@ Wace: Nah, Penner + Smid is worth Marleau 1 year IF he waives his NTC. Shows he wouldnt mind playing here and thus we would have a chance at re-signing before hits UFA if he works out.

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#110 Hemmertime
July 25 2009, 10:19AM
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gdawg wrote:

ya its a shame that the oilers just assume what the fans want and shove it down our throats

We want a high scoring winger, Heatley poll showed that - I realize horribly dirty but I am using your context here: Please shove Heatley down my throat. Force me to accept the best UFA goalie. 2 years ago we landed the best UFA defenseman. Last year we landed even better D man via trade. Out of 3-4 Offensive players we have targetted we have landed none. But neither have 20 other teams that had them in their cross-hairs. They are doing well - think of the fact that we are all b*tching because we have expectations for the team now; something relatively new compared to a decade ago.

If only Northlands and the Oilers had zero tolerance with individuals like this. Cheering for your team is one thing, but acting like a complete moron shouldn’t be put up with.

C'mon, 18679 people yelling out "F*ck you Cheechoo" is one of my favorite playoff memories ever (especially the 8 year old they showed on jumbotron screaming it out too with mommy's hands over his ears). I agree that some people go overboard, solo cussing all game, or even most cussing can be done away with - I wont hold it against a person for a F*CK when the good guys are scored upon though. Next people will want noise limits to not hurt their ears. It is not illegal to say profanity on the streets - so it really shouldnt get you thrown out of the building. I guess could get a public disturbance ticket outside for continual screaming outside, but sadly, the hockey rink isnt really a kid atmosphere. Maybe Tuesday night or Sunday afternoon games, but weekened games in the evening are more made for the 18-34 crowd.

The Oilers priced themselves out of being a kid-friendly family outing when it costs the downpayment on a new car to get in.

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#111 gdawg
July 25 2009, 11:47AM
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@ Hemmertime: The fans that I am talking about are the ones that are being rude to other fans for no apparent reason. That is when I feel a line has been crossed and something could be done to destress it.

I agree about the demographic age you mentioned. Fans aged 18-34 have the disposable income for the most part to go to an oiler game. Bringing kids to a high priced game like the oilers is a luxury many cant afford. That is why it is disappointing to see the oil king games grossly overpriced. A cheaper ticket to an oil king came could satisfy many more people.

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