OBJECTS MAY BE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR

Lowetide
May 26 2013 11:02AM

Although we're still a few weeks away from the draft and what might be a wild summer of trading and free agency, NHL teams are beginning to tip their hands. What's coming? A LOT of movement--buyouts, trades to save cap dollars, Euro contracts for NHLers no longer wanted--and for fans maybe a summer of activity the likes of which we've never seen before. In dear old Edmonton, the 'waiting for the paint to dry' approach of the previous administration appears to be a distant bell. There's a new sheriff in town--and he's impatient.

UFA ROUTE

The Oilers under owner Katz have spent to the cap in the past, overpaying (in dollars and term) men like Nikolai Khabibulin--which continued a trend that began in the shadow of the Pronger trade to the left coast and continued until the rebuild was put in place (finally) in the cold wintry days of 2010 January.

If we take the Oilers shopping list (top 4D, 2-way center, LW with size and skill, backup goalie) there are some interesting options: I'll list Mark Streit, Boyd Gordon, Viktor Stalberg and Anton Khudobin, but your mileage may vary.

In the past, Edmonton had to overpay to the extreme in order to attract free agents, and there are still a couple of those contracts Craig MacTavish is going to have to deal with this summer (Eric Belanger, Ben Eager). However, with Ryan Whitney, Nikolai Khabibulin, Ryan Jones, Lennart Petrell, Andy Sutton and the last of the Souray buyout dollars all in the rear view, there is an opportunity for the Oilers to quickly turn this thing around--especially in areas badly in need like center, defense and the 3 and 4 lines.

I was encouraged by MacT's words the other day in terms of free agency (approach free agency cautiously, players are often in decline stage when UFA is reached) and thought it might be a good idea to look at the "younger end" of this year's free agents.

UNDER 30, READY TO ROCK

  • C-R Nathan Horton, Boston: $4M this season, 27-year old is a very nice option for the Oilers. He'll have all kinds of options this summer, including a return to the Bruins if they can make the money work. I would rank this player as an ideal, but possibly unrealistic option. If MacT lands him, that should be considered a massive win.
  • R David Clarkson, New Jersey: $2.67M this season for the 29-year old. Although it is unlikely Edmonton would be his first option, I think he is pretty close to a 'perfect fit' for this team and perhaps worthy of an overpay. Should MacT get him, it should be considered in the same category as a Nathan Horton acquisition.
  • C-L Valtteri Filppula, Detroit: $3M this season, 29 years old and a famous Finn. He'd be an ideal solution for the Oilers, but Red Wings players are usually loyal to the team and this guy has enjoyed a lot of success in Motown.
  • L Viktor Stalberg, Chicago: $875,000 this season, he'll get a raise for sure and Chicago is unlikely to re-sign (their system is producing players at a rapid clip). Rumor has Edmonton and Montreal very interested, you can see why the Oilers would be interested in this 27-year old with size and skill.
  • L Bryan Bickell, Chicago: $542,000 this season, 27 years old and listed below Stalberg only because he's more likely to be signed by the Blackhawks before reaching free agency. A very nice option should he shake loose.
  • L Clarke MacArthur, Toronto: $3,250,000 this season, 29-years old and with some grit. Not the ideal option--the pricetag may be a little dear--but he's certainly skill enough to chip in 20 goals on what should be a strong 2line.
  • C Boyd Gordon, Phoenix: $1.325M this season for the 29-year old, another 'perfect fit' option for an Oiler team that badly needs help at center. The Phoenix situation is somewhat in flux, there may be an opportunity to jump in and pick up this fine veteran.
  • G Anton Khudobin, Boston: $875,000 this season, effective backup and 27 years old. Bruins have a nice option in the AHL and may pass on signing him. He is young enough, and good enough to be an option for the Oilers.
  • L Guillaume Latandresse, Ottawa: $2M this season, 29-year old has lost much of his recent career to injuries but perhaps he's turning a corner. Certainly brings size, and has scored well in the NHL when healthy.
  • L Patrick Bordeleau, Colorado: $525,000 this season, 27-year old is 6.06, 220 and looks and plays like an extra in Slap Shot! I don't know if MacT will devote 2 roster spots to this type of player (Mike Brown is the current fighter, but not a heavyweight) but if that's a priority this fellow fits the bill.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Craig MacTavish's point about free agents is certainly true--often NHL teams overpay for players in their 30's and end up waiting for the contract to expire so they can better use the sunk cost of a wayward contract. However, there are players--several players--who have shown well in the NHL and are some distance from their 30th birthdays.

When the opportunity to speak to these new free agents arrives, the Edmonton Oilers have a great story to tell these free agents. Objectives--playoffs, playoff wins, series victories, deep trips into the spring--are likely to happen with this Oiler team during the back half of the 2010's.

Telling that story to Viktor Stalberg, to Anton Khudobin, to Boyd Gordon, may be enough in one or more cases to win the day.

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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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#151 mayorblaine
May 27 2013, 06:20AM
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regardless of the reality of the situtation...isn't is sad that we discuss wives while contemplating signings or trades.

pretty sad.

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#152 Walter Sobchak
May 27 2013, 06:49AM
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mayorblaine wrote:

regardless of the reality of the situtation...isn't is sad that we discuss wives while contemplating signings or trades.

pretty sad.

It's not about wives, it's about family and quality of life, These players have earned the right to chose where they want to play, there family is a big part of that decision.

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#153 mayorblaine
May 27 2013, 06:53AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

It's not about wives, it's about family and quality of life, These players have earned the right to chose where they want to play, there family is a big part of that decision.

i get the family angle. makes complete sense.

often we talk about the wives, and wives alone. i mean it all makes sense, if not quite ridiculous.

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#154 madjam
May 27 2013, 08:04AM
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I think most athletes and their families are accustommed to life in other cities , just like the military . Playing in ones home city not that attractive for many , if not most . Pressures playing in home city far exceed playing elsewhere . You go where your career is best suited for individual player even though occasionally this does not happen - but that is the exception , not the rule .

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#155 Jordan Moyah
May 27 2013, 08:07AM
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I've played hockey with Tyler Benson and Sam Steel both went first and second overall in the CHL draft this year but i think they're both pretty good getting 100 points in 30 games, i had 73 points in 41 games.

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#156 Taylor Gang
May 27 2013, 08:08AM
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Rocket wrote:

Yes. Yes management should trade up. Any ideas how to do it? 'cause it looks like The Oilers are picking 7th overall.

Possibly trade a prospect such as Gernat, but it all depends on how high up we wanted to go in the draft. Gernat, the 7th overall and our second round pick for the #5?

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#157 RexLibris
May 27 2013, 08:45AM
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Lowetide wrote:

YOU TAKE THAT BACK!

GET OFF MY LAWN*!

*that should read dandelions.

Is this the Oilersnation implementation of primal scream therapy? Very cathartic. Now I understand how Flyers fans have been able to survive the Cup drought.

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#158 2004Z06
May 27 2013, 10:41AM
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Players follow the money and where they have the best chance to win. Build a contender and they will come.

"These players have earned the right".....Please! Greed is all that motivates these mercs....

Did the lockout teach us nothing?

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#159 Mikey
May 27 2013, 10:44AM
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One thing that seems overlooked, is amongst other things Joe Sakic helped get Jones into hockey. And has some what of a relationship with him. Even if he was the concensus #2 he would go to Colorado.

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#160 Will
May 27 2013, 10:55AM
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OilersBrass wrote:

Pretty sure it was Ty Rattie who single handily beat the Oil Kings.

He was very good. You are right. The game I was at though, Jones just took over and the Kings couldn't get anything going when he was on the ice.

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#161 OilersBrass
May 27 2013, 11:03AM
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Will wrote:

He was very good. You are right. The game I was at though, Jones just took over and the Kings couldn't get anything going when he was on the ice.

I think Jones is getting hyped up a little bit much here. I'm not saying he isn't good, but he is a big kid playing smaller weaker competition, it'll be very interesting to see how his game translates into the big leagues.

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#162 Will
May 27 2013, 11:12AM
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OilersBrass wrote:

I think Jones is getting hyped up a little bit much here. I'm not saying he isn't good, but he is a big kid playing smaller weaker competition, it'll be very interesting to see how his game translates into the big leagues.

I also agree. So few, even highly touted rookie defencemen make huge impacts their first or even second year. Doughty maybe is one that comes to mind. Karlson was real good real quick.

But, I mean he's so young and already so good. He will fill into his size, and when that happens he will be elite.

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#163 OilersBrass
May 27 2013, 11:29AM
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Racki wrote:

Leipsic too. He was at least as good as Rattie in the WHL final, and a real thorn in the Oil Kings' side.

I'll say that I wasn't blown away by Seth Jones in that final round... but maybe it's because I was surprised how a guy gifted with size like he is could lack a physical edge in his game. But he was solid/reliable.

Ya Leipsic was awesome to, that whole team works so well together. The CHL is going to have a very different look next year with so many of these young stars going pro.

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#164 Racki
May 27 2013, 11:45AM
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OilersBrass wrote:

Ya Leipsic was awesome to, that whole team works so well together. The CHL is going to have a very different look next year with so many of these young stars going pro.

Ya, I thought Portland would fall apart without Baertschi... he was really the straw that stirred the drink for them last year, but then Rattie and Leipsic and Petan really gelled together this year. I assume Rattie will be on to the St Louis Blues / Chicago Wolves for 2013/14, but Petan and Leipsic should still be around. Curious how they'll do without Rattie.

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#165 OilersBrass
May 27 2013, 12:01PM
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Racki wrote:

Ya, I thought Portland would fall apart without Baertschi... he was really the straw that stirred the drink for them last year, but then Rattie and Leipsic and Petan really gelled together this year. I assume Rattie will be on to the St Louis Blues / Chicago Wolves for 2013/14, but Petan and Leipsic should still be around. Curious how they'll do without Rattie.

I'm sure they'll do just as well if not even better. With people like Rattie moving onto bigger better things it'll give lots of other players opportunity to step up and prove themselves.

I can't wait to see how well Lazar plays next year with the Oil Kings top line moving on and their Captain most likely playing for the Isles.

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#166 Racki
May 27 2013, 12:26PM
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Yah, I'm anxious to see what Lazar can do in a top line role too.

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#167 TwoSkidoos
May 27 2013, 12:51PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

It is important to remember scouts are not looking for the guy who is most impactful player now, squaring off against teenagers.

Their job is to find the guy who will be most impactful over the next decade or so in the best league in the world.

I am not saying it won't be MacKinnon but tonight's game is of little consequence.

You HAVE to take into consideration who is the most impactful now.

Like I stated - gamers vs. good players.

Gamers are gamers regardless of what level they're at, good players are good players.

Nobody has a crystal ball, but, being a gamer when the chips are down gives a pretty good tell about what someone is likely going to like down the road.

I'm certainly no soothesayer, but, that's pretty telling to me.

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#168 OilersBrass
May 27 2013, 01:33PM
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TwoSkidoos wrote:

You HAVE to take into consideration who is the most impactful now.

Like I stated - gamers vs. good players.

Gamers are gamers regardless of what level they're at, good players are good players.

Nobody has a crystal ball, but, being a gamer when the chips are down gives a pretty good tell about what someone is likely going to like down the road.

I'm certainly no soothesayer, but, that's pretty telling to me.

You're right, and MacKinnon is a game changer. I remember 2 seasons ago, I think his rookie season, his team was down by 5 and he took the game over and scored 5 goals to catch up.

I would much rather have a player like Mackinnon with the drive and skill to score goals and win you games.

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#169 count
May 27 2013, 03:43PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Lol, alright, you got me.

So, are these guys from before Duran Duran, or after?

and i'm hungry like a wolf..... Lawrence Welk > Hellhummer.

lol Lawrence welk funny

and Duran Duran and hellhammer are both 80s bands.

oh it is HELLHAMMER.

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#170 OilersBrass
May 27 2013, 03:55PM
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Also, I just read an article in the Canucks Army "Trading Alex Edler: Who to target (part 2)" and it gave me a pretty good chuckle. They think they can get Eberle for Edler, or Gagner AND MPS for Edler.

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#171 OilersBrass
May 27 2013, 04:07PM
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TwoSkidoos wrote:

Oh God. Leave it to TO and VAN to overvalue their players and undervalue everyone else in the league.

Fistric for Crosby and Neal.

Hahahah so true.

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#172 Darrell
May 27 2013, 06:34PM
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Robin Goodfellow wrote:

SHUT UP

LOL - dropped my phone laughing .....

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