Free agency approacheth!

Jason Gregor
June 14 2010 02:25PM

Montreal Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec skates off the ice after their loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of their NHL Eastern Conference final hockey series in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 24, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

The two-week buy out period starts tomorrow, and free agency is 17 days away, so be prepared to read and hear lots of conjecture on teams who are interested in certain players. But ask yourself how many of them are realistic.

I road in the MS bike tour over the weekend, 90 kilometres a day on a bike is pretty tough when you only practice four times prior, so while I was icing my knees yesterday I had lots of time to scan the web on hockey stories.

Some stories made sense, some seemed like a stretch and others were so asinine it hurt to read them. Bruce Garrioch was bang on at the start of his article when he quoted an NHL executive stating the 2010 UFA crop is pretty weak. He was wise enough to suggest a team could pay Tomas Plekanec $4.5 million a season, and regret it the next morning.

But then he lists his top-ten UFAs, and puts that Edmonton or Columbus might bite on Plekanec. Has he seen the Oilers lineup? A small forward who is inconsistent and rarely physical is not a priority in Edmonton. The Oilers have plenty of them already. Not to mention that Steve Tambellini already stated publicly the Oilers won’t be chasing a big fish in free agency.

The Oilers are re-building through the draft and the only signings you will see in Edmonton will be in character/leadership guys of the 3rd and 4th line variety.

I re-read the line and wondered if there was an angle I was missing. “Tomas Plekanec, C, Montreal: If he leaves, some team will overpay. His 25 goals and 70 points made for a great season, but can he do it consistently? Edmonton or Columbus might bite.”

Was Garrioch taking a shot at the Oilers and Blue Jackets with his prediction? Was he subliminally suggesting only Edmonton and Columbus would be foolish enough to overpay Plekanec? Or was he just making a suggesting without putting any actual thought into it. I’d guess the latter.

I was told by an Oiler executive, there is no chance they go after Plekanec. Columbus needs a centre, Scott Howson said on the TEAM 1260 last week, that his major priority is a centreman. Howson already has two recent UFA signings not producing, Kristian Huselius and Sammy Pahlsson, why would he add a third in Plekanec?

It is easy to see that Howson would be way more inclined to trade his 4th overall pick and get a proven centre in return, than add another winger. Now if he could get Plekanec for $3 million a year after striking out trying to get a centre I could see it, but even that is doubtful.

I’m not naïve enough to know that many suggestions that get put forth never come to fruition, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any discussion between the teams mentioned. However, in this case, I can guarantee you the Oilers aren’t interested in Plekanec.

WHO GETS BOUGHT OUT, WHO, WHO, WHO, WHO!

One hit wonders, Baha Men, struck gold with “Who Let The Dogs Out”, why I’m not sure, but it was big hit. The 15 day buy-out period is open from June 15th to June 30th and in Edmonton there is tons of speculation as to who will go.

Ethan Moreau, Patrick O’Sullivan and Robert Nilsson are the only candidates that make sense for a buy out, and you could make a solid case for all of them. If Nilsson was bought out, in a strange cap hit scenario the Oilers would save $83,333 in cap space next season, so he seems the most likely.

If the Oilers can’t trade Moreau leading up to the draft, then expect them and the captain to part ways before June 30th. Moreau could end up making more money this year if he is bought out. The Oilers would have to buy him out for $1.32 million, (even if it is split over two years he still gets the money) and then on the free agent market he’d probably get $1-1.2 million. I get the sense the buy out scenario is most likely.

It’s been debated how many players a team can buy out, but via two NHL capologists there is no limit, so the Oilers could go hog wild and buy out O’Sullivan as well. That doesn’t seem likely. They will want some competition for their young wingers when camp starts. It would make the most sense to try and trade them at the draft before buying them out.

The Oilers aren’t tipping their hat on who they will buy out, and understandably so. A buy out has to be one of the most humbling experiences for a player, and to talk about it before it happens wouldn’t look good. Getting traded unexpectedly could be tough to handle, but at least you know another team wants you. When you get bought it, it’s telling everyone you haven’t lived up to your contract. That’s a big piece of humble pie.

The supposed $2 million increase in the salary cap might save one or two guys around the league from getting bought out, and we have heard a few rumblings of possibilities, but most teams are keeping any buyout talk quiet, which is the classy thing to do.

ESKS NOTES

I know this is mostly a hockey site, but most of you are diehard sports fans so here are a few quick notes from Eskimo camp.

  • Kamau Peterson, two years removed from being Canadian of the year, is in tough. He had too many drops last season, Andre Talbot has looked very solid in camp, and Peterson’s age and contract are also not working in his favour. With no guaranteed contracts in the CFL, releasing a veteran isn’t that hard. Peterson has to play well in BC on Sunday.
  • The other great battle is at left tackle. The Eskimos have decided if they are going to play an import on the O-line it will be a left tackle. Calvin Armstrong moved from the right side to the left this year, and he is being pushed hard by Jeremy Parquet. If Armstrong doesn’t show the grit and fire he had two years ago, he might lose his job. That is the best battle in camp so far.
  • Skyler Green and Tristan Jackson are in a battle to be the kick returner. Jackson has the advantage because he is a DB. The Esks will dress three, or maybe four, Canadian receivers so depth isn’t an issue there which might hurt Green. Jackson suffered a burner yesterday in the first quarter, but after the game he said it shouldn’t be too serious. I’d expect both to make the 46 man roster, but only one to dress each week.
  • The five 0’clock start on Sundays should be a hit with fans if the weather is nice. Yesterday was a great day for football and a crowd of 33,000+ showed that Sunday afternoons aren’t a bad draw.
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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Ender
June 14 2010, 02:38PM
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Glad to hear about Plekanec not being on the wish list. I read the article this morning and was a bit worried. Nice to know that some semblance of sanity remains in the front office.

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#2 Harlie
June 14 2010, 02:45PM
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Yay new content!

In regards to the buyouts would it not be a bit of a black eye to the organization to buyout their Captain? Looks kinda classless to me, even though I am not a fan of EM.

And I listened to Morley's high pitched calling of the game yesterday and I can honestly say that I missed Brian Hall a bit.

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#3 Souby
June 14 2010, 02:49PM
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I don't see the Oil making a big splash in the Free Agent pool because as a rebuilding team, they are better off drafting well and developing these young guys. Don't get me wrong, if Marleau hit the FA market, I would love to see him in Oilers silks, but I can't see the Sharks letting him walk for nothing.

If a big splash is to be made, then I say go really big and try to get a star player via a trade. If the Hawks are going to struggle for cap room, why not see what it would take to get Hossa? Just throwing that out there.

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#4 Hemmertime
June 14 2010, 02:55PM
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The post title made me SQUEEEEEEE!

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#5 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
June 14 2010, 02:56PM
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1-2 out of:

Michalek/Kubina/Martin/Leopold/Morris/Hamius/Volchenkov/Jones/Boychuck/Jurcina/Morrison

And 1-2 out of:

Lombardi/Higgins/Malhotra/Moore/Armstrong/Torres/Pyatt/Nystrom/Burrish/Konopka

Please

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#6 Ducey
June 14 2010, 03:00PM
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If they can't trade them, I kind of hope they hang on to POS and Nilsson rather than buy them out. They will need some guys for the second line and to sit in the pressbox. I'd rather they had a couple of veterans on standby for when injury strikes rather than calling up someone who is not ready.

Besides, I think POS will bounce back this season. There is no rational reason for my belief - but he is talented and seemed snakebit last season.

They have to get rid of Moreau though. It seems evident he was a problem in the room last year and they need a more positive voice leading this team.

I am most interested to watch what they do with Souray - with Moreau and Souray gone it would seem the decks will be clear of grumpy old men - as long as you don't count coaches.

Any word on what will happen with Souray, Jason?

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#7 Harlie
June 14 2010, 03:01PM
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ps. - how the heck does a rock band come up with the name Nazareth? What, Bethlehem was taken already?

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#8 VMR
June 14 2010, 03:03PM
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I dont think buying out Moreau makes much sense. Why take that cap hit and then replace him with a similar player? We do have a need for 3rd line grit players, keep him, trade him at the deadline. O'Sullivan I dont think gets bought out either, there's likely a trade available for him. Nilsson will be bought out and that should be it.

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#9 BigE91
June 14 2010, 03:24PM
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What are the chances of Steve Tambellini meeting with Moreau and giving him the option of being bought out and cutting ties with the team. Or allowing him to play out his final season with the condition that Moreau steps down as captain.

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#10 carackenbury
June 14 2010, 03:43PM
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Harlie wrote:

Yay new content!

In regards to the buyouts would it not be a bit of a black eye to the organization to buyout their Captain? Looks kinda classless to me, even though I am not a fan of EM.

And I listened to Morley's high pitched calling of the game yesterday and I can honestly say that I missed Brian Hall a bit.

Never in a million years did I think I would miss Brian Hall, but the play-by-play yesterday was well below standard. Way to many pauses and lags in play calling, not to mention little to no excitement. Hopefully they can get it figured out for the regular season.

I hope the Oilers spend the time to get it right. The Esks showed yesterday how painful it can be to listen to game on the radio when you don't have the right guy calling the game.

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#11 Robin Brownlee
June 14 2010, 03:43PM
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Harlie wrote:

ps. - how the heck does a rock band come up with the name Nazareth? What, Bethlehem was taken already?

Don't be an insolent kid . . .

Nazareth kicked serious backside in the early 1970s. Saw them in Vancouver in 1973 just after Razamanaz came out it was one of the best concerts you'll ever see.

Now, they look a bit goofy prancing around like rockers in their 60s and Dan McCafferty's voice has turned to dogsh*t, but they had a five-year run from 1973-78 that produced wicked stuff -- and they kicked the snot out of you live. Now, they're a lounge act. Sad.

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#12 BUCK75
June 14 2010, 03:56PM
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@ Gregor

Congratulations on finishing the bike tour. Hopefully the "butt butter" helped you out on the hill climbs @ Saunders lake, the 2 outside of Wetaskiwin & Bittern Lake. I give you credit if you can even walk today.

Signing Plekanec would be a dumb move. Put me down on signing guys like Adam Burrish & his big yap or Johnny Boychuk. 2 players that won't break the bank & can help grit up our team.

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#13 Team Hall
June 14 2010, 03:59PM
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Yes, old rockers are kind of sad. Cool that they are still young at heart, sad to see an old guy wearing tights. I'm a sentimental, that's why I'm always rooting for Brownlee. I hate to see the vets get pushed out after giving so much for so long. Oh well, it's been nice knowing you Moreau and Pisani. Two moments of silence please. In a perfect world I'd keep them both. But this isn't 2006 anymore, and one must look towards the future. Seg-Win or Taylor Hall of Fame, that is the question. And which transitional vets will we pull out of the bargain bin in August. Plekanec will join Hossa at the end of a rainbow in Oilerville.

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#14 BUCK75
June 14 2010, 04:02PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Nazareth has a following in Edson. They play "Castaways" & The Slo-Pitch Cabaret every couple of years. It seems like Naz & Trooper alternate @ Kin Weekend.

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#15 Pajamah
June 14 2010, 04:02PM
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I'm definately in love with the 1st for 2nd overall plus the rights to Johnny Boychuck deal thrown out a few weeks back. 6 days of negotiating before he hits the market, and the Oilers may actually have a good Edmonton player, as opposed to Calgary poaching them all

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#16 Woogie
June 14 2010, 04:05PM
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Laraque is going to be bought out.

Does anybody know the real Laraque story? You might as well send him to the minors once he cleared waivers if you can't trade him. A team just does not part ways halfway through the season just because.

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#17 Quicksilver ballet
June 14 2010, 04:09PM
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We should offer up O'Sullivan or Nilsson to the Predators for the rights to negotiate with Hamuis before July 1st......if he doesn't sign here no big deal.

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#18 Salsa Shark
June 14 2010, 04:22PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

We should offer up O'Sullivan or Nilsson to the Predators for the rights to negotiate with Hamuis before July 1st......if he doesn't sign here no big deal.

Ya, I saw this idea on oilersinsider's site with Nilsson coming off the books. I think it's worth a shot. Nilsson has enough skill on his good days that Nashville might be willing to chance him as a reclamation.

Also wouldn't mind trying to get Boyd out of there.

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#19 a lg dubl dubl
June 14 2010, 04:28PM
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id like to see pisani back on a yr by yr basis maybe start him out at 600-750/yr + bonus' 4 games played n such, hes homegrown, is still a workhorse on the defensive aspect of things, and could still net 15 goals depending on his health. Or buyout captain casper and give pisani moreaus contract at least fernando shows up game in game out and hed still make less than what he made this last contract lol

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#20 swany
June 14 2010, 04:44PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Don't be an insolent kid . . .

Nazareth kicked serious backside in the early 1970s. Saw them in Vancouver in 1973 just after Razamanaz came out it was one of the best concerts you'll ever see.

Now, they look a bit goofy prancing around like rockers in their 60s and Dan McCafferty's voice has turned to dogsh*t, but they had a five-year run from 1973-78 that produced wicked stuff -- and they kicked the snot out of you live. Now, they're a lounge act. Sad.

April wine, and Street heart were very good to. When you see them live they sound like there C.D's. Some of the bands now sound like shit live.

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#21 Hemmertime
June 14 2010, 04:57PM
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Funny: http://audio.wgr550.com/m/audio/20898607/9-11-greg-buck-slovakia-crushes-slovakia-in-hockey.htm?q=%22greg+buck+%22

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#22 Nate Full of Hate
June 14 2010, 05:17PM
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O'Sullivan was one of Tambi's first acquisitions, I doubt he'll want to go back on that before moving KLowe's dead weight.

War Jack Campbell

UnWar 90km bike rides in the face of a two club wind.

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#23 Ender
June 14 2010, 05:37PM
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Harlie wrote:

In regards to the buyouts would it not be a bit of a black eye to the organization to buyout their Captain? Looks kinda classless to me, even though I am not a fan of EM.

It's not great PR, but I'm guessing a buyout is better in Moreau's eyes than sending him to the minors. If the team were sure that Moreau could come to camp and play this year the way he played his last 10 games or so, maybe this wouldn't be a topic of conversation. They are probably reluctant, though, to take the chance that he'll have a repeat of last season; at his age there's no reason to think that's not a real concern.

BigE91 wrote:

What are the chances of Steve Tambellini meeting with Moreau and giving him the option of being bought out and cutting ties with the team. Or allowing him to play out his final season with the condition that Moreau steps down as captain.

What would be the point to your option 2? They're not considering cutting him because he's a lousy captain; he's a good captain who just struggled to play hockey last year. Unfortunately, the hockey part is kind of important. Having him stay and play poor hockey while not even providing the good leadership is pretty much the only way you could make this bad situation worse.

Woogie wrote:

Laraque is going to be bought out. Does anybody know the real Laraque story?

Robin already wrote the story right here on the Nation. Try to follow along, eh? ;-)

Hemmertime wrote:

Funny: http://audio.wgr550.com/m/audio/20898607/9-11-greg-buck-slovakia-crushes-slovakia-in-hockey.htm?q=%22greg+buck+%22

Funny stuff. It might have been a lot like that.

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#24 SuntanOil
June 14 2010, 07:06PM
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I am from the school of thought that feels that you do not buy out players in the last year of their contract when they are still only an RFA at the end of that year. Then again, if the Oilers are up against the limit for the number of pro contracts they can have again, I might feel differently.

Try and trade the player first, but if that doesn't work then waive them. If someone picks them up, then that player becomes their problem and not yours, and you save the cap hit. Put them on recall waivers, if you wish, and if someone picks them up you still have a net saving. If no one does, then you have an organizational depth player you can use to improve OKC, or possibly one that will be more motivated knowing that he can be sent down at any moment. Furthermore, in this latter scenario you still retain the rights, with the possibility to get something for the guy in a trade down the road.

Of course it's a little different for Nilsson, but still not enough that I would want to risk getting nothing for the asset.

And for the record - I did it. I let the dogs out. Now can we please stop singing about it?

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#25 Racki
June 14 2010, 07:41PM
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The savings on Nilsson with a buyout for this coming season is only $83k (I use the word only very loosely here).

At any rate, it's a pretty good reasoning for a buyout, I would think.

Oh as for Matheson suggesting weird ideas (like signing Plekanec, I find he can be pretty off the mark with some of his ideas. One of which was recently suggesting trading Gagner, Smid and Penner for Jason Spezza. mmmm.. thanks, but no thanks, Jim.

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#26 HOPE
June 14 2010, 10:52PM
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Gregor

I had to chuckle when you said this was a hockey site and you posted the esk notes. I have live in edmonton for 17 years and am a diehard oilers fan but I go complete opposite on the football team. I will let you guess which team where my heart lies. I am just curious how many oiler die hards are like me.

Hope

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#27 Jon
June 15 2010, 01:11AM
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Jason

I'm guessing the Plekanec to Edmonton bit was due to the Czech connection with Hemsky and that much talked about center hole. Not saying those should be reasons to sign him, but I can see those being reasons for a reporter to speculate Edmonton as a destination for him.

Also, would you mind explaining the bit about Nilsson's cap hit? If we don't buy him out, it's a 2 million cap hit...but if we do, it's a 1.6??

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#28 RossCreekNation
June 15 2010, 06:33AM
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Its funny you mention bad FA contracts in Columbus (Huselius, Pahlsson, Commodore, etc).

I'm thinking even though he makes $7M, acquiring Jason Spezza makes too much sense for CBJ to not do it. They NEED to make the playoffs, they NEED a playmaking center for Rick Nash. With Scott Arniel being offensive-minded, Spezza's the perfect fit.

Jim Matheson threw out Brassard & Umberger for Spezza. I wonder if #4 could be in play here. How about Spezza & #16 for Huselius & #4. OTT has to take Huselius for $ reasons, yet get to move up to #4. There's got to be a deal somewhere there. I guess even Brassard makes a nice chunk of change, too. Brassard & #4 for Spezza & #16? What y'all think. OTT might have to take another contract.

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#29 smiliegirl15
June 15 2010, 08:17AM
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@HOPE

Go Riders!!!

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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

I think Lombardi will be too much for us. Torres I doubt is brought back.

Kinda weird you didn't have Higgins first ;)

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If we don't buy anyone out is there a chance that we do the re-entry method? Why pay 2/3 is there is a chance for 1/2 the salary and for it all to be paid this year?

Is there not anyone out there that would take those guys at half their salaries? Heck if you are Toronto why not take O'Sullivan at half of 2.38?

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@Jason Gregor

I think Spector had it right yesterday. If Souray can't be dealt then he and Tambo will have a sit down and Tambo will let Souray know that if he wants to be dealt then play like he has value.

Gregor do you know if the teammates knew about Souray last year wanting out? I was listening this morning and Chase and Neilsen were talking about how teammates are going to have to be pros and deal with Souray if he is there next year. One would have to think that they knew last year and that next year wouldn't be any different for the others on the team.

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@Jason Gregor

I thought it came out that he asked for a trade last summer and that is why I'd have to think that the majority of the players probably either knew or heard rumblings that he wanted out.

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@Jason Gregor

Oh yes forgot. Even Moreau at half his salary wouldn't be bad for some teams.

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#41 Jackie Treehorn
June 15 2010, 04:18PM
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nice

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