Out of the Blue

Lowetide
January 23 2011 09:16AM

This is Adam Larsson. He is the number one rated prospect for the 2011 NHL Entry draft at this time. The Edmonton Oilers may have a shot at selecting him this summer, something that wasn't in the conversation just days ago. Jacques Lemaire's defensive hockey is starting to work in the New Jersey swamps, and it may benefit the Oilers in a big way. The question then becomes "will the Oilers take a defenseman #1 overall?"
 

In the history of the Edmonton Oilers, the club has used a first round selection on a defenseman 10 times. Barry Fraser drafted a defender in the first round 5 times between 1979 and 1985. He did extremely well, plucking Kevin Lowe, Paul Coffey and Jeff Beukeboom during those drafts. Two more picks in the late '80s, a couple in the '90s (Stadjuhar, Descoteaux) and Alex Plante in 2007. That's it, that's all. 10 for the blue in the first round, compared to 2 goalies and 26 forwards. And more pertinent to our conversation, just one defenseman since 1997.

Let's begin by discussing what kind of player Larsson is, and how he might be able to help out the Oilers.

The early scouting reports gush about Larsson's wide range of skills, but tough marker Redline Report places Larsson in perspective:

  • Woodlief:  I see him more as a number two who's going to eat a lot of minutes and be maybe a 40-45-point scorer. I don't see him being that number one guy who's going to come in and get 60-70 points and really lead a top power play. He makes a great first pass out of his own end. He plays solid, he plays physical. I'd like to see him, with his big body, to play physically a little more consistently along the walls and in front of the crease where he just kind of has a tendency to just lean on guys instead of getting aggressive with them. I think he's a legitimate 15-year NHL player and number two guy who, on a poor team, will maybe play as a number one from time to time.

The source for that quote is here. I don't really get the "#1" to "#2" distinction above and do believe Oiler fans would be thrilled with a guy who can play the position and deliver 40-45 points a season. But is that worth cashing your #1 pick for?

I've posted Gabriel Desjardins NHL equivalencices for forwards before, but haven't posted much in terms of defensemen. Below are some of the top offensive NHLE numbers from the blue over the past few seasons. ALL of the numbers below are from each player's draft season (per 82gp):

  • Ryan Ellis (2009) 9-29-38
  • Victor Hedman (2009) 10-21-31
  • Drew Doughty (2008) 6-23-29
  • Dmitri Kulikov (2009) 5-20-25
  • Zack Bogosian (2008) 5-20-25
  • Cam Fowler (2010) 4-21-25
  • Michael Del Zotto (2008) 6-18-24
  • Erik Karlsson (2008) 8-14-22
  • Alex Pieterangelo (2008) 5-17-22
  • Brandon Gormley (2010) 4-14-18
  • Adam Larsson (2011) 2-16-18
  • John Carlson (2008) 5-11-16
  • Erik Gudbranson (2010) 1-13-14
  • Luke Schenn (2008) 3-9-12

So I think we need to be clear about how much offense he's going to deliver. Larsson is not going to be an impact offensive player ala Doughty based on what he's delivering currently. There are all kinds of things that could send his numbers north: if he came to Edmonton and was used on the PP often then Larsson would likely outperform the estimate above. Having said that, offensively he looks like a guy who won't play a lot on the top powerplay unit outside the peak period of his career.

He is a solid defensive player, physical and he can impact a game. The numbers suggest the strength of his game will be in his own end of the rink. I don't think that's what a team should pursue with the number one overall selection.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#101 Crash
January 23 2011, 09:33PM
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Chris. wrote:
I understand that you're saying management has done a poor job. Pretty much every post you provide says the same thing over and over and over. You're not alone in that thinking. But it's just year one of a rebuild.

Year one of the rebuild... You say that like it's year one of Tambellini's tenure.

What does rebuild even mean? Every team turns over their roster somewhat... when you're 30th place you turn over your roster even more... (And why not? You don't even have to call it a rebuild: that's just a word, just spin) You, like many posters here, and much of the Edmonton media use the term rebuild like it's a synonym for mulligan. Your team finished last: gee I know... MULLLIGAN! Steve, your team finished last again... I know, but it's MULLIGAN! What's your plan moving forward Steve. Patience... we are going to mulligan.

Oh. Fine. Mulligan. ELPH is an oxymoron. There is nothing exciting about knowing the end result of a sporting event before it even begins.

I suggest you jump off the bandwagon like others have before you or at the very least just stop watching.

For the most part the games aren't bad. The team is young. Glass half full, I think better days are ahead.

If you are finding none of it exciting you really should just stop watching.

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#102 FastOil
January 23 2011, 09:39PM
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@Crash

I don't buy that the Oilers can't sign players because of the city. It's because the team was/is awful. It is different now that Hall and Eberle and the others are here, the team can legitimately say they are building to be a contender, the appeal is greater.

To speak of a player's size, you have to take weight into consideration. Eberle, Hemsky, Gagner are 190 or under, Hall just over. These aren't big guys. Penner is huge, MPS and Horcoff fairly big at 200. 4 top 6 forwards under 200, 3 under 190 - thats a small line up Crash, likely the league prize winner.

2nd tier doesn't mean lousy players, but it is clear they aren't in the league's top 30 - right?

Kessel got 2 - 1st round picks. That deal is a great example of how it should be done. Kessel is good, but Boston benefited more than TO from it to me. Their team didn't miss a beat without Kessel.

To think that Hemsky isn't worth one 1st pick, and that Garth wouldn't want Hemmer with Tavares or Lou - Hemmer with Kovalchuk - really? Gagner still has enough cache in the league he gets asked about but Tambellini has shut the door (foolish, take offers and if one is over the top...)

As for rebuilding, remember the Oilers are in a unique position for a terrible team, the stands are full. NJ, Isles, Panthers are under financial pressure and need to see the playoffs (for the money) soon. To give up a pick for a younger established player who can help now is good value for them. There is always the chance your 1st rounder flops as you say, and you have to wait for development.

Hemsky having an extra year is a bonus given that his contract is fair. It means he can't walk this spring (just a rental) - a much higher chance of retaining him if he has to play a year there and likes it. Euro's like the East coast as well because the flight home is much shorter.

There is always a risk trading a decent player for a pick. But when you are seriously over stocked at centre, have a top 2 pick likely in the bag already, risks are lower.

It's a judgement call, but I say a team with Couturier and Landeskog in 3 years is better than a team with Couturier and Gagner (who by then is fighting for 3 or 4 C with Hall and Couturier ahead of him).

Teams trade off first picks nearly every year. They won't give them up for nothing though, as Tambellini found out last year with Chiarelli. The key is to cash in good players in over filled positions for quality missing pieces, a safe bet if it's a lottery pick. A trade is fine too.

You don't keep flipping players unless you don't like them. Then you do it before everyone figures out what you already know.

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#103 Jimmer
January 23 2011, 09:42PM
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Our 2011 1st round pick for NAS - Shea Weber?

My point here is that we need "for sure" type guys and not more "potential" to go with Hall, Eberle, EPS, etc.

Shea Weber fills all of our needs on the blue line right now. Larsson might take 3-4 years to develop into player we hope he becomes.

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#104 FastOil
January 23 2011, 09:46PM
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Crash wrote:

I suggest you jump off the bandwagon like others have before you or at the very least just stop watching.

For the most part the games aren't bad. The team is young. Glass half full, I think better days are ahead.

If you are finding none of it exciting you really should just stop watching.

I have been watching since the WHA. After Messier left, the Oilers have always been a young team, full of potential, exciting but can't win (mostly).

Having a few good draft years isn't enough - the line up still needs adjusting, especially when you keep drafting the same player type repeatedly.

Tambellini has had enough time, if he doesn't make some adjustments he IS taking a mulligan.

Activity is a part of most jobs (wake up Stev-o). And pushing your team to do better is not being a band-wagoner.

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#105 The Beaker
January 23 2011, 09:55PM
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I give Tambo this summer and about ~25 games next season... if things dont look great.... get someone who will do the job. This year is a write off. I dont expect much come deadline day (which sucks if I'm right) but this summer Edmonton has to make some noise.

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#106 Chris.
January 23 2011, 09:56PM
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Crash wrote:

I suggest you jump off the bandwagon like others have before you or at the very least just stop watching.

For the most part the games aren't bad. The team is young. Glass half full, I think better days are ahead.

If you are finding none of it exciting you really should just stop watching.

I own season tickets. I've watched pretty much every Oiler game on T.V. that I haven't attended for 25 years... it doesn't matter how bad they stink: I'm still gonna watch.

But that doesn't mean I'm gonna toe the party line. This is year one of a rebuild? I disagree... we've been rebuilding since Pronger left. Fred Flinstone can talk all he wants about how Katz was the first person to say the word rebuild... but he is wrong: Lowe use to drop that word now and again when the team struggled (then he'd back peddal and say re-tool, or re-build on the fly)... In fact, Lowe actually said the word "rebuild" and "re-stock" in an interview after he dumped Ryan Smyth for picks and prospects.

But I digress... If this is year one: How do you think it's going? Happy? I kinda get the feeling expectations within the organization were a lot higher than this... But hey: Mulligan.

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#107 The Beaker
January 23 2011, 09:59PM
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Jimmer wrote:

Our 2011 1st round pick for NAS - Shea Weber?

My point here is that we need "for sure" type guys and not more "potential" to go with Hall, Eberle, EPS, etc.

Shea Weber fills all of our needs on the blue line right now. Larsson might take 3-4 years to develop into player we hope he becomes.

The problem is can you sign Weber at the end of next year when his contracts up? Whats the point of trading a 1st round pick that you will have the rights to for what... 5-7 years for a guy who will help the team now but might only be around to help the team... make the playoffs next year?

No good.

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#108 Chris.
January 23 2011, 10:02PM
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@Crash

BTW, glass half full... of course better days are ahead! How can they get much worse?

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#109 Crash
January 23 2011, 10:02PM
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FastOil wrote:

I have been watching since the WHA. After Messier left, the Oilers have always been a young team, full of potential, exciting but can't win (mostly).

Having a few good draft years isn't enough - the line up still needs adjusting, especially when you keep drafting the same player type repeatedly.

Tambellini has had enough time, if he doesn't make some adjustments he IS taking a mulligan.

Activity is a part of most jobs (wake up Stev-o). And pushing your team to do better is not being a band-wagoner.

After Messier left the league changed and the Oilers became a small market team and those franchises with money ruled the day for the most part right up until the salary cap came into play. The Oilers could never keep their stars because they couldn't afford them back then. When the salary cap arrived the Oilers were still an 8th place hockey team in a local that many aren't thrilled with.

Tambellini and the Oilers have just this past season shifted the thought process into a rebuild. If you are impatient after one year of rebuild then so be it. It won't matter who is running the team, there won't be a sudden turn around. You can say it until your blue in the face, but players don't want to sign here. Heatley turned down a trade here, Hossa turned down 9 mil a season here, Malhotra said no, Pronger ran out of here. Who knows how many others.

Drafting well is really the only option the Oilers have until what they draft can start turning this team around. Good UFA's are not coming here, period...I hope they all have a shift in the way they think and decide they'd rather sign in Edmonton but I'm not going to hold my breath.

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#110 Crash
January 23 2011, 10:03PM
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Chris. wrote:

BTW, glass half full... of course better days are ahead! How can they get much worse?

Hang in there Chris!!

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#111 Crash
January 23 2011, 10:15PM
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Chris. wrote:

I own season tickets. I've watched pretty much every Oiler game on T.V. that I haven't attended for 25 years... it doesn't matter how bad they stink: I'm still gonna watch.

But that doesn't mean I'm gonna toe the party line. This is year one of a rebuild? I disagree... we've been rebuilding since Pronger left. Fred Flinstone can talk all he wants about how Katz was the first person to say the word rebuild... but he is wrong: Lowe use to drop that word now and again when the team struggled (then he'd back peddal and say re-tool, or re-build on the fly)... In fact, Lowe actually said the word "rebuild" and "re-stock" in an interview after he dumped Ryan Smyth for picks and prospects.

But I digress... If this is year one: How do you think it's going? Happy? I kinda get the feeling expectations within the organization were a lot higher than this... But hey: Mulligan.

I too own season tickets and have watched pretty much every Oiler game on TV.

See, what you are mistaken about is for a fan like me who sees the rebuild as the right thing you call it as me toeing the party line. Just because I agree with this process it can't be that I have my own thought process. I'm just toeing the party line because I certainly can't think for myself and have my own opinion. I'm toeing the party line as you say it only because I agree with what they are doing.

You know in actual fact, Lowe never went into rebuild. Yes he tried to retool. And isn't that just what you want? You want the Oilers to retool and try to make all these trades and UFA signings for middle of the road talent just so they can win a few more games and struggle to make the playoffs and fall short. They've been doing that for multiple years with little success other than the one improbable run. Why would you bitch out Lowe when he was doing what you wanted the current brass to do? If you remember after he dropped Smyth for the pick and prospects he went on to sign Penner, try to sign Hossa, overpaid to keep Pisani, Moreau, etc. Isn't that what you are asking for? How has that worked out over the years?

As far as year one of the rebuild, yes, I'm seeing what I was expecting to see. The team is young, they compete on most nights. I realize that they aren't going to tear up the league this year. Although when they are 100% healthy I think they aren't too bad. I'm sure as hell happy we aren't doing what we've been doing since the 90's began. I like how the cupboards have been stocked lately and am optimistic that these young guys will start to turn things around in the next few years. I'm not happy about the injuries to all of our best players but sh!t happens.

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#112 Chris.
January 23 2011, 10:16PM
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@FastOil

So you are old enough to remember when the Oilers had the 4th and 6th overall pick, and a really great young core... it's fans just needed to be patient because we'd be winning cups again in three to five years...

*~Too bad Sather wasn't smart enough to really tank it: or instead of being stuck with that bum Ryan Smyth we'd have had Oleg Tverdosky to first pass that puck to Jason Bonsignore.

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#113 Chris.
January 23 2011, 10:20PM
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@Crash

I want Lowe gone too. His finger prints are all over this mess we're in.

And BTW, I'm calling BS on your assertion that you are seeing what you expected to see... I'm seeing a lot worse than what I expected and you spent all summer calling me a pessimist. You, on the other hand, were all chipper and optimistic to the extreme! I bet if I dig back I could find quotes of you saying this team has a real shot at pushing for the playoffs... and then talking down to people who disagreed. If you are so ready to just re-adjust your level of expecation midseason, without even batting an eye, maybe you should apply for a job in Oiler hockey-ops... I get the feeling you'd fit right in! (I suggest the spin department)

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#114 Chris.
January 23 2011, 10:31PM
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@Crash

Have a good night though.

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#115 TigerUnderGlass
January 24 2011, 01:01AM
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2 Things:

First, Why do people keep saying this is year one of a rebuild? That makes no sense. None. Whoever said we have been rebuilding since Pronger left has it exactly.

Second, is it really so hard to grasp the implication that when people suggest trading for a player like Weber they mean an extended Weber. Does everything really have to be spelled out in that much detail?

There is not a single person here who would advocate dealing a bunch of youth for a single year and fervent hope he will resign.

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#116 The Beaker
January 24 2011, 06:55AM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

2 Things:

First, Why do people keep saying this is year one of a rebuild? That makes no sense. None. Whoever said we have been rebuilding since Pronger left has it exactly.

Second, is it really so hard to grasp the implication that when people suggest trading for a player like Weber they mean an extended Weber. Does everything really have to be spelled out in that much detail?

There is not a single person here who would advocate dealing a bunch of youth for a single year and fervent hope he will resign.

#1) Because this is the first year they publicly admitted they are rebuilding and because "rebuilding" as people seem to mean it means actually actively pursuing draft picks, trimming the veteran fat etc etc. They actually havent been doing that since Pronger left. What they had been doing is sitting on their ass hoping UFA's would somehow fill in the blanks in the line up.

#2) No it is not hard to grasp that implication. But that would imply that Weber would be willing to sign an extension here. That is a HUGE assumption. So as long as we are living in the world of ~reality~ (i hate the stupid ~ things for sarcasm but apparently it's needed here for people to grasp something) we actually have to consider the possibilities of what is being suggested rather than just assume it will happen because it would be awesome if it did.

And if you meant to imply that Nashville for some reason is going to sign him to a 3 year extension or so then deal him here... that's even more assinine

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#117 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 24 2011, 07:31AM
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@FastOil

Theirs a big difference between "first rounder" and lotto pick.

Sure we could probably get a 1st for Hemmer, maybe even a little more.

No way we get a lotto pick though.

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#118 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 24 2011, 08:09AM
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The Beaker wrote:

#1) Because this is the first year they publicly admitted they are rebuilding and because "rebuilding" as people seem to mean it means actually actively pursuing draft picks, trimming the veteran fat etc etc. They actually havent been doing that since Pronger left. What they had been doing is sitting on their ass hoping UFA's would somehow fill in the blanks in the line up.

#2) No it is not hard to grasp that implication. But that would imply that Weber would be willing to sign an extension here. That is a HUGE assumption. So as long as we are living in the world of ~reality~ (i hate the stupid ~ things for sarcasm but apparently it's needed here for people to grasp something) we actually have to consider the possibilities of what is being suggested rather than just assume it will happen because it would be awesome if it did.

And if you meant to imply that Nashville for some reason is going to sign him to a 3 year extension or so then deal him here... that's even more assinine

Theirs a HUGE difference between trading for pending RFA's vs pending UFA's.

Not to mention the fact, that of a trade of that magnatude you talk to the player to make sure he would be willing to extend before pulling the trigger.

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#119 chartleys
January 24 2011, 08:16AM
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Overheard at a pancake breakfast:

Oiler fan 1: "Isn't it obvious! Rebuilding means sucking while not spending to the cap maximum. We spend less AND get likely get to pick first! Lowe and Tambo are perfect for the job. Only problem will be when they actually need to start phase two of the rebuild and not suck anymore...But cmon, they both used to play hockey, they know what they are doing."

Oiler fan 2: "Yeah, I guess you're right....Not totally sure though."

Oiler fan 1: " Of course I'm right don't you see how badly we are sucking! Even worse than less year FOR LESS MONEY!!! These guys are geniuses. Oh, I see you only have a half full cup of the kool-aid, let me get you some"

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#120 lowetide
January 24 2011, 09:06AM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

2 Things:

First, Why do people keep saying this is year one of a rebuild? That makes no sense. None. Whoever said we have been rebuilding since Pronger left has it exactly.

Second, is it really so hard to grasp the implication that when people suggest trading for a player like Weber they mean an extended Weber. Does everything really have to be spelled out in that much detail?

There is not a single person here who would advocate dealing a bunch of youth for a single year and fervent hope he will resign.

I think the Oilers PR men did an excellent job of framing this issue. They had to hire Steve Tambellini as GM for the third time since he took the position but it's done. Rebuild started with Taylor Hall.

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#121 Crash
January 24 2011, 09:36AM
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Chris. wrote:

I want Lowe gone too. His finger prints are all over this mess we're in.

And BTW, I'm calling BS on your assertion that you are seeing what you expected to see... I'm seeing a lot worse than what I expected and you spent all summer calling me a pessimist. You, on the other hand, were all chipper and optimistic to the extreme! I bet if I dig back I could find quotes of you saying this team has a real shot at pushing for the playoffs... and then talking down to people who disagreed. If you are so ready to just re-adjust your level of expecation midseason, without even batting an eye, maybe you should apply for a job in Oiler hockey-ops... I get the feeling you'd fit right in! (I suggest the spin department)

You can dig, but you won't find me making bold predictions one way or the other. There was one statement I did make saying that if the team stayed healthy that there was no way they'd be a lottery team. I stick to that. When healthy this team is not as bad as you make them out to be. I like what I see in the what's coming. I like watching Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, Gagner, Peckham, Hemsky, Penner, Omark. I'm enjoying Petry who I wasn't expecting to see this year. Chorney looks improved. I was sure that Dubnyk was a starter in the making. I still believe that and I like what I see in him. I'm not as worried about the overall result this year as you are.

Whitney was making a huge impact on the winning end of things and making players around him better.

But feel free to look back. You won't find anywhere or any article where I am predicting playoffs. I've always stated that it would depend on just how good the young guys are this year and how healthy the team remained as to what level they would reach as a team. Given the key injuries once again to our best players, yes, I am seeing what I am expecting to see.

I'm not hating things as much as you are. I'm enjoying the games much more than last year. And I am optimistic going forward.

EDIT: Oh and talking down to people is something I for the most part try to avoid, unless I'm talked down to first. Debate, yes, talk down to, I'm not a fan of it.

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#122 Oilers4ever
January 24 2011, 01:21PM
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There's been a lot of stuff to read along here. Not sure I think we should be bashing people for toeing the ole party line. Everyone has an opinion. Have to admit, I've never been a season ticket holder because I could never afford or justify spending that amount of cash on tickets. Those who have kids and family will understand where I'm coming from. There are better places to spend it. It's not from a lack of entertainment part or that every game this season is on TV... I live too far away now as well.

This team needs to look at the 3 years from now. Not one, not 5, but three. This will be the first year in the new contracts for guys like Hall, Ebs, and MPS. It will be the final year for guys coming in and playing next year (like VandeVelde, Hamilton, etc, if they make the team) plus the first round pick if they get it. This team will be ready to win by that team if they keep the core.

Hemmer's a good player, don't get me wrong, but if you have someone throwing you a first rounder and a prospect you take it. Hemmer's issue to me is injuries. The guy for three straight years has missed pretty much half the season because of injury and I doubt you'll see him again this year. The guys a piece of glass skating on ice. Penner should go to. Big he is, but the issue is he doesn't play like he's big. Half the time he plays like he's 5'10 180lbs. He'd likely get us hopefully a 3-4 dman that we could use and maybe a 2nd or 3rd rounder with that.

They need to build this team with the pieces they need playing 3 years from now. If you keep Hemmer for one more year and he's injured at the next trade deadline then what? You can't trade him for anything because he'll be UFA so unless a team with a legitimate cup shot thought he was the final piece, he goes nowhere and you lose him for nothing.

It's hard to play GM when you don't know the whole inside picture which none of us here know, including the writers on this wonderful site. If they think the Oil Brass tell them absolutely everything that's going on, their nuts. I do agree Tambo should be doing more with this team. Not so much to improve it for this year, but to move players out who don't fit the "3 years from now mould" so we have the room for the players that do fit that mould. As much as it sucks I firmly believe this team needs to finish last and trade for another first rounder from someone like NJ if they are willing for Hemsky. Hell, package Hemsky, Gagner and a 3rd rounder for a 1st rounder and maybe say Mattias Tedenby? If the Oil could have two 1st rounders to luck out and get Couturier and Lands whats his name, we are better off down the road.

Making trades for existing players now even if they are 25-28 years old is useless unless they want to be here for the long haul. As bad as this team is right now, if you believe everything you read, all of the players want to be here no matter how bad the team is. And they believe they have the coaching staff with the patience required to build this team into a championship one. If you have that mentality to start, you have everything you need to build a true winner. It's like watching your kids grow up... They will make many mistakes when they are young, but it's how they learn from it that counts and I'm a firm believer that with Renney and this staff, they are learning. They might be losing, but at least they aren't blown out in most losses like last year. That tells me the growth is there.

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#123 TigerUnderGlass
January 25 2011, 01:03AM
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@The Beaker

And if you meant to imply that Nashville for some reason is going to sign him to a 3 year extension or so then deal him here... that's even more assinine

Wrong. "Asinine" is writing comments like the one quoted above when you clearly have no idea how these deals work.

I hate it when people respond with aggressive ignorance. I have no patience for it and then I look like the a$$hole.

You don't make the trade assuming he will sign. You complete the trade conditional on an extension and obtain the right to negotiate the extension from Nashville. Deals like this happen all the time. It's not a secret.

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