Pat Quinn on the Current Roster

Jonathan Willis
August 19 2009 01:00PM

Dan Barnes’ column this morning is (as it often is) a must-read for Oilers fans – in this instance because he gets Pat Quinn saying some things that he (and the organization as a whole) haven’t been saying before. To start with, it’s the middle of August, and the major changes expected by a good portion of the fanbase have not come to pass. Thus, it’s time to manage expectations a bit.

Tambellini Press Conference, April 15, 2009:

[12:17] - He wants at least one top-six player, and guys that are hard to play against in general. He also reemphasizes the need to get more out of players that are currently in the organization. I’d guess that means that not all of MacTavish’s whipping boys are considered irredeemable.

Pat Quinn, August 19, 2009:

No, I didn't have that expectation [of change]. When we were talking about my coming on, I pretty much had the expectation that the roster would be pretty similar. There are a couple ways to get better, making trades or getting into the free agent market. The other, more important way is to improve from within. Our improvement will come from within.

Still, that isn’t the money quote. I think most fans have already put two and two together: if Tambellini’s able to make a trade that can improve the team, he will, but he’s not going to move heaven and earth (or even move a guy like Robert Nilsson to the minors) to bring in someone to bolster the roster.

No, the money quote is this one:

I've been historically a four-line guy. You're looking for balance. But we may not have that kind of roster. We may need to have a checking line, a slug line and two scoring lines. I am not pre-judging any of that.

That may not sound terribly interesting, but it does contrast subtly with what Quinn told Jason Gregor at the end of May:

At the start I want to find out the kind of depth we have. I’d be interested in playing all of our players. I’m more of a guy that thinks about handling a checking responsibility in terms of a defense pair, or maybe a defense pair and a given centre. As for matching a whole line, I think you can get confused some times. I think you can get caught up too much in the changing and sometimes I think you are telling players you are just a specialty player who can’t play in this circumstance. I want to have a team that believes in themselves and can play in all circumstances. I know there are some nights you do pay attention to who is on the ice at certain times, but line matching is not as critical, especially during the regular season, as some of the other things we will want to do with our hockey team. Hopefully well have good balance so we can be a strong and up tempo four line, six defense team.

Based on that quote, I’d been assuming that Steve Tambellini was going to bring a veteran or two in so that Quinn could run his four-line team, and roll his lines without worrying too much about the matchups. However, the roster as constructed really isn’t built for a line-rolling game; there are simply too many players who aren’t reliable in all situations. Maybe natural development and work by Quinn and Renney can turn some of these players into guys who are reliable in all three zones, but it will take time.

Quinn’s latest quote seems to indicate that he’s willing to run specialty lines a little bit more than he’d originally intended, and make no mistake – that’s a good thing. I doubt we’ll see Horcoff on the third line, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see Pisani and Moreau flanking a to-be-determined centre (Pouliot, Brule, UFA?) as a dedicated checking line.

And The Rest Of It

 

  • Barnes talks about how 4th-line centres who can win draws “do in fact fall from trees”. That’s true enough, and like him I’m curious as to why the Oilers haven’t picked one up yet. If they don’t the Brodziak trade will have been an error; if they do (as Barnes seems to believe) than not only might they save some cap room (Brodziak’s cap hit is 1.15MM for the next three seasons) but they’ll have done a fin job of asset management.
  • Tambellini did, as Barnes points out, repeatedly refer in his press conference to getting more out of the existing group of players. Personally, I’m not a fan of rolling the dice like that, but Tambellini has been consistent on that point.
  • Barnes suggests that the powerplay needs to improve and the current cast should be worried about their positions on it. He isn't wrong, but the more urgent concern is the penalty-kill, which is down in lottery pick range.
  • Quinn talks a lot about he’s an “open book” and in most ways that’s a good thing. I like MacTavish as a coach – and my opinion of his abilities is much higher than the consensus among Oilers’ fans – but at the same time it was easy to see him getting stubborn on certain players last season. Dustin Penner is the obvious guy who might benefit, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see players like Andrew Cogliano and Marc Pouliot – both of whom saw their roles diminish down the stretch – benefit as well.
  • Lastly, I know the video above is only very, very tenuously related to the column, but I’ve been looking for an excuse to put some old Pat Quinn footage up. Also of note: Don Cherry sounds a lot gruffer these days, doesn’t he? That’s for the best, I think.
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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 jeff
August 19 2009, 01:34PM
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I think at this point I would like to see what Quinn/renney can get out of our team. I still wouldn't mind a guy like Betts getting an invite though.

I wonder if the Oil will try take salary on during the year? If Penner and Nilsson aren't working out maybe Tambo makes the move and sends them to the minors?

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#2 JRyanMac
August 19 2009, 01:46PM
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@ jeff: I know Katz is a billionaire and all, but do you really think he's gonna wanna have two guys on the roster in SPRINGFIELD making around a combined 7 mil????

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#3 Heatly
August 19 2009, 01:47PM
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I'm still optimistic. Let's see what happens after 20 games.....if we are .500 or below we need to make some major moves!

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#4 Rice
August 19 2009, 01:55PM
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@ JRyanMac: IF they are playing poor enough, what is the other option? They have no trade value and buying them out you will still have to pay. AT least in the minors someone will benefit from playing with them (presumably).

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#5 Jonathan Willis
August 19 2009, 01:58PM
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A pair of questions:

a) Are you all so enthusiastic about Reddox being on the team that you'd rather not see a big, faceoff-winning PK'er signed and the red-headed one down in Springfield? It's barely even going to affect the salary cap to sign someone like Betts.

b) Is it easier to pick up a guy like Betts or someone like him now, for nothing but money, or 25 games in, when everyone still thinks they can make the playoffs?

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#6 Jonathan Willis
August 19 2009, 01:59PM
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jeff wrote:

If Penner and Nilsson aren’t working out maybe Tambo makes the move and sends them to the minors?

Dustin Penner isn't going to the minors. He's too good of a player to be in the minors.

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#7 Ogden Brother
August 19 2009, 02:06PM
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jeff wrote:

I think at this point I would like to see what Quinn/renney can get out of our team. I still wouldn’t mind a guy like Betts getting an invite though. I wonder if the Oil will try take salary on during the year? If Penner and Nilsson aren’t working out maybe Tambo makes the move and sends them to the minors?

I know people like to talk about it, but Penner in the minors is ridiculous. He's at very least a 2nd line talent (and a top line PP talent) and he's just entering his prime. If he made 3.5 no one would care, but at 4.25 having on the roster is the end of the world.

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#8 Heatly
August 19 2009, 02:07PM
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Good point, but I wanted them to sign/trade for somebody at the end of the season and that hasn't exactly worked.

We need to sign a faceoff guy now. A trade would be better to dump some salary but obviousley no takers.@ Jonathan Willis:

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#9 Ogden Brother
August 19 2009, 02:07PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

A pair of questions: a) Are you all so enthusiastic about Reddox being on the team that you’d rather not see a big, faceoff-winning PK’er signed and the red-headed one down in Springfield? It’s barely even going to affect the salary cap to sign someone like Betts. b) Is it easier to pick up a guy like Betts or someone like him now, for nothing but money, or 25 games in, when everyone still thinks they can make the playoffs?

Forget Betts, get Malhotra (other then that though, your points stand)

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#10 The Menace
August 19 2009, 02:11PM
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JRyanMac wrote:

@ jeff: I know Katz is a billionaire and all, but do you really think he’s gonna wanna have two guys on the roster in SPRINGFIELD making around a combined 7 mil????

That's right - to put it in perspective, 7 mil to someone with 1 billion dollars, is the same as $3500 to a regular guy worth about $500k. $3500 isn't going to bankrupt any of us, but we still don't just throw it around with no regard - it's still a lot of money.

People seem to have this idea that because Katz is a billionaire, he doesn't care about burying huge contracts or buying them out. I'm sure if makes sense strategicaly he would do it, but I would bet that would be a last resort.

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#11 The Menace
August 19 2009, 02:14PM
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After saying all that, I should add that there is no way Penner is ever playing in the minors again.

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#12 Jonathan Willis
August 19 2009, 02:14PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

I agree, but frankly I've lowered my expectations.

I'll take a decent PK'er who can fit in on the fourth line over nothing.

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#13 Taylor
August 19 2009, 02:15PM
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A photo of Ann Margret would have been better than the video.

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#14 Heatly
August 19 2009, 02:15PM
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Second! He will have his best year ever, in my opinion. The Menace wrote:

After saying all that, I should add that there is no way Penner is ever playing in the minors again.
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#15 Eric
August 19 2009, 02:31PM
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Hello... Just a thought.....Expectations for the team at least making the playoffs may be low, but I just can't wait to get this party started!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FOR BETTER, BAD OR WORSE....GOOOOOOOOOO OILERS!!!!!!!!!!!! NO MATTER WHAT, I JUST CAN'T GET THIS TEAM OUTTA MY HEART...

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#16 Ogden Brother
August 19 2009, 02:34PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: I agree, but frankly I’ve lowered my expectations. I’ll take a decent PK’er who can fit in on the fourth line over nothing.

I suppose... it's been a sad summer :(

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#17 JeffG
August 19 2009, 02:41PM
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At this point its probably better waiting for training camp to start before doing anything.

For example, Nilsson trade value is at its lowest point right now. If he has a good training camp, either he makes the team or his value goes up.

or Why trade a Gilbert now and gamble that Smid is ready for a top 4 spot.

Wait till training camp and see whats what.

There is no longer a rush to change things.

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#18 The Menace
August 19 2009, 02:48PM
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Eric wrote:

Hello… Just a thought…..Expectations for the team at least making the playoffs may be low, but I just can’t wait to get this party started!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FOR BETTER, BAD OR WORSE….GOOOOOOOOOO OILERS!!!!!!!!!!!! NO MATTER WHAT, I JUST CAN’T GET THIS TEAM OUTTA MY HEART…

That sounds like a fan *should* sound like. I second that.

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#19 jayoilfan
August 19 2009, 03:10PM
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GO Oilers!. Quinn, I really believe in my heart, will be able to motivate these guys and have them love to play again. This team has talent, they just need to realize that from the players out. Once they 'gel' they can become a good team.

As a fan I want that to happen and I think this team may surprise this year. I expect that they will start slow but who knows, maybe division title isn't out of the question. One never knows what will happen until the season starts.

So many questions about this team I am filled with excitement and anticipation for the new season. Everyone starts over come October. I will not judge this team but only cheer 'til my throat gives out! GO OILERS GO

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#20 OvenChicken8
August 19 2009, 03:14PM
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Eric wrote:

ople seem to have this idea that because Katz is a billionaire, he doesn’t care about burying huge contracts or buying them out. I’m sure if makes sense strategicaly he would do it, but I would bet that would be a last resort.

Now tell us how you really feel.

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#21 OvenChicken8
August 19 2009, 03:14PM
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lol it quoted the wrong person. /fail :(

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#22 jeff
August 19 2009, 03:15PM
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@ JeffG: Have to agree, unless someone comes a calling there isn't much need at this point to do much. Who knows maybe Penner and Nilsson come into came in good shape, after all it sounds like they are training hard.

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#23 LowOnOil
August 19 2009, 03:20PM
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JW,

I've heard people arguing on various blogs that Tambi's handcuffed by the poor performance of last season having the effect of lowering perceived player values. That being said, if the results don't improve, it won't help things going forward.

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#24 The Villain
August 19 2009, 03:26PM
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Here's my feeling on the upcoming season....I hope I'm wrong.

Tambo (late August): Let's wait until training camp to see what we have.

Tambo (at training camp): Let's play 20 games to see how the new coaches do... and see what we have..

Tambo (twenty games later): Let's wait until the olympic break and see how we do.

Tambo (after break): lets wait until trade deadline and see if we can cook up a deal or two and make a push for the playoffs.

Tambo (at trade deadline): We had many deals in place but nothing came thru.

Tambo/K-lown/Katz (after missing playoffs): The season was a success, we'll wait until free agency to see what we holes we can fill. We're very happy with the new coaching staff.....

Sometime next August: Hemmer (who's hangin out in the Czech republic) finds out no changes have been made to the 1st line and gives his head a shake and continues to balance his chequebook.

HIT REPEAT next year......

Again, I hope I am completely wrong

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#25 Jonathan Willis
August 19 2009, 03:32PM
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For everyone who wants to wait until training camp or 20 games in or whatever:

UFA's are avaialable now.

They may not be later.

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#26 The Villain
August 19 2009, 03:34PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

EXACTLY..We need to do something now !

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#27 B-Rad
August 19 2009, 03:49PM
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I cann't watch this video at work...what do you mean by he sounds "gruffer"?

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#28 Bob Loblaw
August 19 2009, 03:54PM
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I misread the Header to this column. I thought it was going to be about Pat Quinn suiting up again on the blue line for us as a member of the Oiler roster.

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#29 jeff
August 19 2009, 03:55PM
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@ Bob Loblaw: That would add some size to our roster.

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#30 Travis Dakin
August 19 2009, 04:07PM
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jeff wrote:

@ Bob Loblaw: That would add some size to our roster.

And really make Penner look like he'd been training hard this summer in comparison.

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#31 Ogden Brother
August 19 2009, 04:07PM
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LowOnOil wrote:

JW, I’ve heard people arguing on various blogs that Tambi’s handcuffed by the poor performance of last season having the effect of lowering perceived player values. That being said, if the results don’t improve, it won’t help things going forward.

He's handcuffed by an inability/reluctance (either forced or self imposed) to use waivers.

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#32 Eric
August 19 2009, 04:16PM
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What else can I do but try as hard as I can to support our Oilers. Also, I always write my letter to Santa early. This year I am asking for an all new Oilers management team that really knows what the hell it is they are doing so I can have a team to be more than proud of and at least make the playoff...

Am I asking for too much?????????

OvenChicken8 wrote:

Eric wrote: ople seem to have this idea that because Katz is a billionaire, he doesn’t care about burying huge contracts or buying them out. I’m sure if makes sense strategicaly he would do it, but I would bet that would be a last resort. Now tell us how you really feel.
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#33 Eric
August 19 2009, 04:29PM
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http://nhl.fanhouse.com/2009/08/19/goal-differential-how-the-non-playoff-teams-can-become-playoff/#cont

The above link is very interesting. It's about playoff teams and goal differentials....

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#34 LowOnOil
August 19 2009, 04:29PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

LowOn

That too, of course! As for waivers, the cross hairs are pointing right at Nilsson with Moreau/Staios in 2nd or 3rd, if Tambi has a flair for the dramatic. Though I would be shocked to see either one of Moreau/Staios get waived, there's $4.7 million in cap space between the two of them. That's a ton of money for a 3rd pairing defenceman and a probable 4rth line winger. I don't imagine that it would make for good PR to waive one of them though.

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#35 BigE57
August 19 2009, 04:38PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

Who would you like to see waived? What do the Oilers gain by waiving players and eventually buying them out when they go unclaimed or sending them to the minors (which has been discussed above already)?

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#36 Ogden Brother
August 19 2009, 04:40PM
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LowOnOil wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: LowOn That too, of course! As for waivers, the cross hairs are pointing right at Nilsson with Moreau/Staios in 2nd or 3rd, if Tambi has a flair for the dramatic. Though I would be shocked to see either one of Moreau/Staios get waived, there’s $4.7 million in cap space between the two of them. That’s a ton of money for a 3rd pairing defenceman and a probable 4rth line winger. I don’t imagine that it would make for good PR to waive one of them though.

So we are going to waive a 3rd pairing Dman and a 4th line winger .... to signe a 3rd pairing Dman and a 4th line winger?

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#37 Ogden Brother
August 19 2009, 04:41PM
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BigE57 wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: Who would you like to see waived? What do the Oilers gain by waiving players and eventually buying them out when they go unclaimed or sending them to the minors (which has been discussed above already)?

I don't WANT to see anyone waived, however I feel it's ridiculous to NOT sign someone you think could help your team (Malhotra for example) because you WONT waive a MAP/BigMac Etc.

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#38 Ogden Brother
August 19 2009, 04:43PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

BigE57 wrote: @ Ogden Brother: Who would you like to see waived? What do the Oilers gain by waiving players and eventually buying them out when they go unclaimed or sending them to the minors (which has been discussed above already)? I don’t WANT to see anyone waived, however I feel it’s ridiculous to NOT sign someone you think could help your team (Malhotra for example) because you WONT waive a MAP/BigMac Etc.

And no one of that caliber would ever need to be bought out.

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#39 Ogden Brother
August 19 2009, 04:58PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

LowOnOil wrote: Ogden Brother wrote: LowOn That too, of course! As for waivers, the cross hairs are pointing right at Nilsson with Moreau/Staios in 2nd or 3rd, if Tambi has a flair for the dramatic. Though I would be shocked to see either one of Moreau/Staios get waived, there’s $4.7 million in cap space between the two of them. That’s a ton of money for a 3rd pairing defenceman and a probable 4rth line winger. I don’t imagine that it would make for good PR to waive one of them though. So we are going to waive a 3rd pairing Dman and a 4th line winger …. to signe a 3rd pairing Dman and a 4th line winger?

Oops, thought you meant waive Staios/Moreau in order to sign 3rd pairing dman/4th line winger

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#40 JeffG
August 19 2009, 05:08PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:There is a reason they (the UFA's) are still available. There is no reason for that to change. There are no big impact players out there right now. IMO

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#41 BigE57
August 19 2009, 05:18PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

I wonder if the reason why that hasn't happened is because the Oilers think a guy like MAP has more potential than Malhotra, who is 5 years older and has bounced around the league somewhat.

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#42 Godzilla
August 19 2009, 05:22PM
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JeffG wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis:There is a reason they (the UFA’s) are still available. There is no reason for that to change. There are no big impact players out there right now. IMO

You're right. At this point in the offseason, it's virtually impossible to get an impact player via UFA (possible exception Alex Tanguay). But you can get a valuable player for a reasonable price.

I would'nt mind if the Oil would sign a player like Malhotra or even Robert Lang, at the right price. Of course they would have to clear a little bit of cap.

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#43 Jonathan Willis
August 19 2009, 05:47PM
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@ JeffG:

Did you know that Kris Draper was once acquired for a dollar? True story.

The point is, there are guys out there who are good at stuff the Oilers aren't (PK, size, faceoffs in that order) and they can help. There's no reason to pass on a Betts/Yelle-type player so that Liam Reddox can be 14th forward rather than a minor leaguer.

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#44 JeffG
August 19 2009, 06:29PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: True enough.

But how fast does a team have to move?

By waiting...can they increase the value of existing players, whereby trading for a greater than Betts/Yelle type player is possible?

This team isn't going to make or break on Betts (no matter what the fit)

You said the Oilers moved to quick on a goaltender, do they make the same mistake for a 4 line center?

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#45 Ogden Brother
August 19 2009, 06:50PM
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BigE57 wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: I wonder if the reason why that hasn’t happened is because the Oilers think a guy like MAP has more potential than Malhotra, who is 5 years older and has bounced around the league somewhat.

That's the only logical reason I can think of, even then though picking up Malhotra is not a gurantee that you lose MAP. Sure he be at risk heading to the A, but I don't think a tonne of teams would be jumping to get him.

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#46 Ogden Brother
August 19 2009, 06:52PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ JeffG: Did you know that Kris Draper was once acquired for a dollar? True story. The point is, there are guys out there who are good at stuff the Oilers aren’t (PK, size, faceoffs in that order) and they can help. There’s no reason to pass on a Betts/Yelle-type player so that Liam Reddox can be 14th forward rather than a minor leaguer.

In reality those are the players you want to pick up as FA's (3rd line centers/4th Dmen/back-up goalie/energy winger etc etc) they are usually cheap and a good short term fill in, real good bangs for your buck. Swinging for the fences in the FA market usually blows up in your face.

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#47 Ogden Brother
August 19 2009, 06:54PM
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JeffG wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: True enough. But how fast does a team have to move? By waiting…can they increase the value of existing players, whereby trading for a greater than Betts/Yelle type player is possible? This team isn’t going to make or break on Betts (no matter what the fit) You said the Oilers moved to quick on a goaltender, do they make the same mistake for a 4 line center?

I don't think Betts makes the team much better, but a true, high end 3rd line center that can play against anyone, pk, 55% FO, big body and can chip in 12 - 15 goals probably would have had the team in 6th/7th last year.

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#48 BigE57
August 19 2009, 07:23PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Swinging for the fences in the FA market usually blows up in your face.

There's been alot of flashburn in Oil country....

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#49 LowOnOil
August 19 2009, 07:51PM
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BigE57 wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: Who would you like to see waived? What do the Oilers gain by waiving players and eventually buying them out when they go unclaimed or sending them to the minors (which has been discussed above already)? I don’t WANT to see anyone waived, however I feel it’s ridiculous to NOT sign someone you think could help your team (Malhotra for example) because you WONT waive a MAP/BigMac Etc.

We can't buy anyone out this year BigE57. The deadline has passed (June 30th).

Ogden Brother wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: LowOnOil wrote: Ogden Brother wrote: LowOn That too, of course! As for waivers, the cross hairs are pointing right at Nilsson with Moreau/Staios in 2nd or 3rd, if Tambi has a flair for the dramatic. Though I would be shocked to see either one of Moreau/Staios get waived, there’s $4.7 million in cap space between the two of them. That’s a ton of money for a 3rd pairing defenceman and a probable 4rth line winger. I don’t imagine that it would make for good PR to waive one of them though. So we are going to waive a 3rd pairing Dman and a 4th line winger …. to signe a 3rd pairing Dman and a 4th line winger? Oops, thought you meant waive Staios/Moreau in order to sign 3rd pairing dman/4th line winger

Nope, I just meant that we could theoretically waive them to clear cap space to fill some roster holes. You're right that we wouldn't do this to sign a 3rd pairing dman/4rth line winger

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#50 esa tikkanen
August 19 2009, 11:34PM
Trash it!
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trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

What I don't understand is why people think teams need to build through the draft. It may be true to draft a few star players but the bottom half the roster can be build more efficiently and just as cheap if not cheaper than through the draft. The Oilers now could sign Betts for cheaper than they would have to pay Pouliot or Brule to do the same role and would not have to live with the young players' mistakes that Pouliot would make. Why bother developing players on the bottom half of the roster or paying anyone more than $1 million when you could sign all sorts of quality NHL players for $600,000 or so to fill all 6 spots?? The young players may improve but if they are destined for the top 6, let them play top6 in the AHL then move up to the top 6 in the NHL when they are ready. Then instead of filling the bottom 6 with prospects, fill it with cheap veterans who have been squeezed out by all the big spending teams who will be effective checkers, fighters, penalty killers and other role players for less money without the errors and other growing pains.

This off season shows me that those who think teams need to build through the draft are mistaken . Those star players that are drafted often become UFA"s at a young age. (Hartnell, Boumeester, soon we shall see Smid and Gagne here too..) THe only advantage to drafting them to build the contender is the possibility that they will like the city and team enough to sign for slightly less than market like in Detroit. If any team is overly successful at the draft, they will ultimately lose those players within 3-5 years of them becoming star players at the age of 24-25 depending when they make the NHL

So for all those whining about the Oilers never really rebuilding and staying lousy for a few years, well look where so many star players have left their teams when they become UFA"s at 25 or 27. Like I said, unless a team can convince players to take a collective hometown discount, they are better off to spend their summers in late august signing quality players on the cheap to fill out their roster.

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