April 07 2012 06:59AM
It's been a long year on the ice. Some positives, some improvement and some hope for better days ahead. An increase in wins, in goal differential and another lottery ticket about to be punched. Perhaps the best news of all? Cap room. Lots and lots of cap room.
In order to improve next year's Oilers significantly, the management is going to have to spend close to the cap. Right now, they have $21M in cap room and very few contracts to worry over. Ryan Smyth (UFA), Lennart Petrell (UFA), Darcy Hordichuk (UFA), Sam Gagner (RFA), Linus Omark (RFA), Cam Barker (RFA), Theo Peckham (RFA), Jeff Petry (RFA) and Devan Dubnyk (RFA) are up for new contracts and Edmonton will retain several of them.
Smyth, Gagner, Petry and Dubnyk will cost some coin, but with 21M to spend Edmonton should be able to add a major option on the blueline via free agency or trade.
The most interesting name on the free agent list (and that list is getting smaller all the time) is probably Dennis Wideman. However, the odds of Wideman signing with the Oilers for market value are not high--he'll have several teams interested and the Oilers overpaid Sheldon Souray to come here and that didn't work out well.
The more likely scenario is a trade, possibly a three-for-one deal along the lines of Brewer, Woywitka and Lynch for the Human Rake. Those deals are tough to do, but Edmonton does have some nice things and there are several teams entering the summer with cap issues.
The Flyers for instance signed Nicklas Grossman to an extension yesterday and their 12-13 cap space won't let them walk to the corner store and buy a pack of smokes. This could mean a player like Matt Carle (UFA July 1) might shake loose, or perhaps Edmonton could trade for his "rights" and then get a deal done before July 1st. They could also take that route to get the best available defender; the "Pronger" this summer is no doubt Ryan Suter, but I don't know if Edmonton has the horses to make that deal work (maybe the lottery pick?) and even after you make the deal signing the player is an obstacle.
That's a balls out move though, and the kind of thing Edmonton management is going to have to push if they want to move up significantly in the wild, wild west. College phenom Justin Schultz also remains a possibility and he would cost only money (no assets).
WHAT ABOUT THE MANAGEMENT?
We should find out soon about GM Steve Tambellini, if he's not on a plane to Toronto for another lottery shuffle this week that might be a tell. Coach Tom Renney's situation may take a little more time, these things usually get announced either right after the season or after the playoffs.
I think it is reasonable to wonder about both men since there's no contract for either.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
It's another summer with plenty of opportunity for an active news cycle surrounding the Oilers. Ownership, the arena, the GM, coaching staff, the draft, trades, free agency, the CBA negotiations, hell maybe Gretzky's looking for work by now.
Expect the unexpected. Who said that, anyway?
A busy Saturday, noon start on Team 1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis from the Nations Network, Cult of Hockey, Hockey Prospectus and ESPN Insider. We'll talk about the Oilers season, the draft, the importance of adding a defenseman and other items that might be on the shopping list.
- Jason Gregor from The Jason Gregor Show on Team 1260. There's a reason his show is a must listen for Edmontonians, Jason has an opinion and brings it every time. We'll discuss the Oilers management, the draft and I'll ask how many holes the Oilers can close up in one summer.
- Danny Gray from Leafs Nation, It's been a weird year for Toronto and the knives are out for everyone. I'll ask Danny what the Leafs need to do and find out which defender might be available via trade.
- Corey Graham Edmonton Oil Kings pbp man updates us on the team that cannot lose these days. Edmonton is up in their 2nd round series and Oiler prospects are looking good. We'll get an update from Corey.
- Kent Wilson from Flames Nation and Hockey Prospectus. Calgary is facing an off-season of great change, and Mike Keenan didn't make things better. We'll talk about it with Kent.
- Robert Cleave from Flames and Jets Nation. Robert gave us great insight into the Jets down the stretch and this time we'll talk about the owner's sublime press conference, the entertaining coach and the team that conquered central Canada this winter.
Please join me, it'll be a blast.