A FRENZIED FRIDAY

Robin Brownlee
July 05 2013 12:07AM

The moaning and whining in some corners about big talk and no action from Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish was only hours old Thursday when MacT pulled off a STFU move by unloading captain Shawn Horcoff and his bloated contract to the Dallas Stars.

With the new buzz suddenly all about MacTavish being a man of action, the table is set for what fans anticipate will be a frenzied Friday, starting at 10 a.m., for MacTavish and the Oilers. My guess is that expectation will be met.

It had better be, because while some fans are celebrating MacTavish's ability to jettison Horcoff's contact, the bottom line is the Oilers have a gaping hole in the middle with No. 10 on his way to Big D and Eric Belanger being paid to pack his bags and get to stepping elsewhere.

Those moves leave Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner as the top two centres with the cupboard essentially bare when it comes to NHL experience behind them. Anton Lander will no doubt get a crack at pivot on the fourth line, but, at the very least, MacTavish needs a third-line centre.

That need, of course, is in addition to addressing the need for grit up front, a bonafide defenseman or two and help in goal. Here's what I think and here's what I know about some of the names rumored to be of interest to the Oilers.

MAN IN THE MIDDLE

The name I keep coming back to when I connect the dots as to who makes sense as a target for MacTavish is Zack Smith of the Ottawa Senators, who has been mentioned as a trade target, perhaps in a deal involving Ales Hemsky.

Smith, 25, is far from the biggest or flashiest name who might be available, but he's a player with 200 NHL games on his resume who could fit nicely in a third-line role with the Oilers.

While Smith produces very little in the way of points, he's a decent face-off man, going 51.8 per cent on the dot this season, has size at six-foot-two and 210 pounds and has some grit in his game.

New coach Dallas Eakins has the book on Smith as he was behind the bench with the Toronto Marlies when Smith was toiling with the Binghamton Senators. My best guess is Smith is at or near the top of MacTavish's list as a candidate for his third-line centre. Striking that deal is another matter.

ADDITIONS UP FRONT

Lots of buzz about UFA David Clarkson making a visit to Edmonton and there should be. With suitors lining up, an in-demand player like Clarkson doesn't have the luxury of taking the time to visit cities he has no interest in just for the sake of appearance. That he visited tells me something.

I've said it before and I'll say it again – I like Clarkson a lot. I think he brings the leadership and edge the Oilers sorely lack on this roster. He's tough to play against and, the way I see it, he's exactly what the Oilers need. Statistics don't tell the story with Clarkson. Given the make-up of this roster, he's a fit.

Price point is obviously a consideration and we're hearing is something at or north of $6 million a season for Clarkson. That's a big overpay, but if that's what the nutty NHL market will bear, that's the price. I don't like it, but if MacT is serious about bold moves, he'll have to break out a big stack, especially with the Toronto Maple Leafs making a big pitch.

Clarke MacArthur of the Maple Leafs has also been mentioned. I'm not overwhelmed by the native of Lloydminster, but he's a two-time 20-goal scorer with 403 NHL games on his resume and Edmonton associate coach Keith Acton knows him from his days in Hogtown.

On the face of it, I'd say there's a better chance MacArthur ends up here than Clarkson, but the wildcard is I'm told the Pittsburgh Penguins want him and that he could sign there as early as Friday.

THE NAME GAME

I don't for a second think MacTavish's pursuit of Braydon Coburn of the Philadelphia Flyers is over and I expect he and Paul Holmgren will, or already have, re-visit this . . . I see Boyd Gordon, as Bob Stauffer of 630 CHED suggested, as an option for the 3C centre spot . . . difficult to ignore Ray Emery as a candidate to push Devan Dubnyk in goal, especially with word from TSN'S Darren Dreger the Oilers are in the hunt . . . Jason LaBarbera, as others have pointed out, seems a reasonable option if Emery says "no thanks."

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 toprightcorner
July 05 2013, 12:35AM
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bazmagoo wrote:

$8.275 per year for Giroux? Wow, can someone tell me what the whole lockout was about?

Wonder if the NHL is going to keep ticket prices the same over the coming years? It would be interesting to try to figure out the rate of inflation to go to a hockey game over the last decade, guarantee it's been at least double the normal rate of inflation.

This is what 75% of the players did not understand during negotiations. The cap would decrease which actually makes the highest talent worth more to keep them. The guys making under $1 mill a year will stay about the same. The guys making $2 - $5 million (75% of the players) will be the ones taking a haircut. Last years $3.75 guy is this years $2.5 guy. They needed to cap the top salaries, raise the minimum salary and everyone would benefit, this way the high end skill just get paid more. Like society is going, the middle class get hurt the most until there is o longer middle class.

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#2 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 05 2013, 08:32AM
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@Fresh Mess

Don't think of it that way. Think of it as a move to just bring in a player who can play. Having any number of expensive players in your lineup is a good thing. Cap is going to be going up substantially next yr anyways.

3 or 4 of the feared I dunno moves, and this team could be a playoff team. We aren't signing the cheques anyways, so why should we care how much someone else is making.

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#4 Tha Legion
July 05 2013, 12:15AM
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sounds good looking forward to not working hard at work tomorrow

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#5 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 12:17AM
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Have to say Robin, you are the fist (sp?) and best reporter on Oilers nation.

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#6 Maggie the Monkey
July 05 2013, 12:34AM
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If we sign Clarkson is it too late to send Yakupov to NJ?

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#7 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 05 2013, 12:35AM
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If that somm beach Holmgren calls, don't answer it Craig. We don't need to be his opportunity for a salary dump. Oilers will be fine with Ference/Ranger/Redden buying the Oilers more time.

The price has gone up to let him unload Mezaros or Coburn on the Oilers. If that package doesn't include Couturier, unload your garbage elsewhere Homer. Let Coburn continue to disappoint the fans in Philly.

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#8 **
July 05 2013, 01:17AM
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Maggie the Monkey wrote:

If we sign Clarkson is it too late to send Yakupov to NJ?

HERESY!!!!!

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#9 admiralmark
July 05 2013, 01:49AM
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719 wrote:

I love the thought of adding Clarkson. Wonder if he would take a contract that slowly goes down as he ages? Something like:

6,6,6,6,5,4,3,3 over an 8 year contract means a 4.875 million dollar cap hit!

I'd think on an 8 yr deal he would take a 5Mill/yr Salary? Thats a BIG commitment however. IF he was a C... it would be a done deal... As a winger with low end offence.. eeeeesh I dont know? Scary. Might be creating another Horcoff for fans to get on.

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#10 Fresh Mess
July 05 2013, 09:09AM
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fatso wrote:

Not sure how things are with Ryan miller but I heard he wants to move out west to be close to his wife/girlfriend just saying.

Yes we know you are "just saying" because you just said it.

I just made a comment.

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#11 TeeVee
July 05 2013, 10:14AM
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Bubye Potter.

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#13 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 12:22AM
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Coburn will likely end up with the Oilers after Holmgren's spending spree tomorrow, will be interesting to see the cost. No one else is interested, and the Flyers are DESPERATE to shed some salary on d. The desperation will only be inflated because of his spending spree tomorrow.

Just my prediction and opinion.

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#14 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 12:23AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Oh no, stooge-like failure on the fake flattery front.

A valiant and comical effort though no?

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#16 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 12:27AM
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$8.275 per year for Giroux? Wow, can someone tell me what the whole lockout was about?

Wonder if the NHL is going to keep ticket prices the same over the coming years? It would be interesting to try to figure out the rate of inflation to go to a hockey game over the last decade, guarantee it's been at least double the normal rate of inflation.

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#17 toprightcorner
July 05 2013, 12:29AM
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I like the Horcoff move and would be fine if we traded Hemsky for Zack Smith and maybe a pick to play 4C (I don't think Lander is ready yet) Gordon would be a good 3C. Even though I would love to see Clarkson with the Oil, I wouldn't pay him the same as Hall and Eberle, that just sets up problems when getting extentions with Nuge and Yak the next couple years. 5.5 would be max for Clarkson so not likely to come to Edmonton.

Would like to see Clowe as an option for big top 6 player.

Colburn is definitly in the mix but if not him, maybe Simmonds or Hartnell as the Flyers still tight on cap space and need to unload more money.

Would love to see a trady with Islanders for Matt Martin, he is a beast for the 4th line, tops in hits, fights and can skate and play. With Clutterbuck there, maybe we can get Martin.

Another guy I would be happy with is Lapeire. He is the typle of p[layer we could use, works hard, wins draws, puts up some points and is a pain in everyone elses rearends. If Eakins thinks he can get him to stop taking stupid penalties he would definitly add to the grit and win over 50% of faceoffs. He did score 15 goals and 28 assists in Montreal a few years ago. with some offensive linemates he could duplicate that. A much better replacement for Jones IMO.

cant wait for tomorrow!!

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#18 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 12:30AM
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@Robin Brownlee

I keep looking at the Flyers d numbers and I see a lot of cap space taken (while factoring in Pronger on LTIR). No one wants Meszaros, and the 2nd most likely to leave Philly is Coburn. Would free up a ton of cap room for Philly.

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#19 Mr common sense
July 05 2013, 12:33AM
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Clarkson would be our billy Guerin, same fabric and nuts....as Guerin became a power forward semi superstar in Edm, so too should clarkson. I'd overpay for him. I'd also still look at Tim Thomas or Ryan miller. A top goalie brings instant credibility, larbarbra is useless and Dooby should be pushed, if he cries it tells you about his character, we all know what moog and fuhr did for each others growth

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#20 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 12:34AM
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Wonder how many of the old guard will be brought back this year around the league? Prediction - a lot of guys getting their first NHL contracts at $600 K/year and a lot of old vets never returing to the league. Another purge similar to 2004.

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#21 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 12:39AM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

Give Holmgren a mid-level prospect (Musil) and a 2nd round pick, that's all Coburn is worth considering the market. No offence to Coburn, think he had an off year and will bounce back. But Philly won't get to play tomorrow unless they unload some salary on d.

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#22 toprightcorner
July 05 2013, 12:46AM
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bazmagoo wrote:

I keep looking at the Flyers d numbers and I see a lot of cap space taken (while factoring in Pronger on LTIR). No one wants Meszaros, and the 2nd most likely to leave Philly is Coburn. Would free up a ton of cap room for Philly.

I dont beleive Prongers salary comes of the cap requirements prior to start of season, they still have to be within 10% by a certain date and at the cap by starting night. All LTIR is simply cap releif at the end of the season that could go toward deadline trades to give teams more flexibility. It is like an ELC, Hall, Nuge, Ebs and Yak don't make the money they are listed as becasue they don make all of the bonuses but the entire number is counted towards the cap.

What it shows PHI defensive cap, that is what it is. They have 7 dmen that have a cap hit of $3.5 or higher, are over their cap limit, have a starting goalie to sign and at least one more foreward. Next yer when Giroux gets a $5.25 bump, Read an Couturier and Schenn need their second contracts done they are in huge trouble.

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#23 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 12:49AM
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@toprightcorner

Maybe we should trade for Pronger?

Haha

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#24 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 05 2013, 12:54AM
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@bazmagoo

Send Mezaros along with Coburn and Couturier. That saves Holmgren 10 million alone. Send them an unsigned Gagner and Petry back if they want.

Holmgren didn't want to do business last week, he killed that possibility. If he needs to do business now, let it be on Craigs terms.

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#25 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 12:57AM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

"If he needs to do business now, let it be on Craigs terms."

Agreed - Musil and a 2nd round pick

Otherwise Holmgren doesn't get to spend tomorrow.

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#26 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
July 05 2013, 12:57AM
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Botb Clarkson and MacArthur have good advanced stats. Zach Smith does not. But he fought Clarkson at least twice in the last two years.

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#27 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 01:00AM
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Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy! wrote:

Botb Clarkson and MacArthur have good advanced stats. Zach Smith does not. But he fought Clarkson at least twice in the last two years.

I don't think the Oilers are really after Clarkson, or they shouldn't be if the price tag gets above $4.5 million in my opinion. MacArthur I could see being a pretty good fit in Edmonton at around 2.5 - 3 million per for a 2 year term.

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#28 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 01:08AM
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My prediction for tomorrow - the Oilers poach the Toronto system big time - my guess at least 3 players.

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#29 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 05 2013, 01:09AM
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bazmagoo wrote:

Give Holmgren a mid-level prospect (Musil) and a 2nd round pick, that's all Coburn is worth considering the market. No offence to Coburn, think he had an off year and will bounce back. But Philly won't get to play tomorrow unless they unload some salary on d.

David Musil reminds me of Brad Marsh, an early eighties/nineties guy who also had severe mobility issues. David doesn't get around the ice very well at all, also not a sufficient puck mover. There's no way this kid is going to ever be a regular in the NHL. He will be gone soon enough. Craig won't tolerate kids who can't get around the ice or move the puck sufficiently. Unfortunatley for David, the pace of the game has change too dramatically to allow another Brad Marsh type player. If Holmgren will take him, well, that might make up for the Jiri Dopita trade.

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#30 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 01:11AM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

There is zero indication Musil won't be an NHL defenceman at this stage, just like there is zero indication he will be an NHL defenceman. He's just coming out of the WHL, still has one league to go through.

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#31 MKE
July 05 2013, 01:13AM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

Until he has to sign Gagner.

Mezaros is a train wreck....

And Couturier.....his numbers are not that good...

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#32 719
July 05 2013, 01:28AM
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I love the thought of adding Clarkson. Wonder if he would take a contract that slowly goes down as he ages? Something like:

6,6,6,6,5,4,3,3 over an 8 year contract means a 4.875 million dollar cap hit!

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#33 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 01:52AM
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Sorry to poo poo on the Clarkson love fest of the last two posts, but we can only sign him to a 7 year deal.

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#34 RJ
July 05 2013, 02:31AM
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@Robin:

I've heard repeatedly that Clarkson visited Edmonton during this five-day recruiting period. Were there any other notable free agents that made the trek to Edmonton?

I'm sure that MacT is talking to more than just Clarkson and I'd be curious to hear who else came.

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#35 Tayranchula
July 05 2013, 02:49AM
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I dont know how much Simmonds from Philly is making but would it really be a strech to suggest MPS plus a pick for Simmonds? Philly would shed some money and MPS re-signed wouldnt cost more than like 1.5 mil a year.

Or even get crazier and trade MPS, Potter plus higher picks for Coburn and Simmonds. That would be considered an engineered salary dump.

Getting Simmonds and Clarkson on the same day and I just might feel a tingle in my pants.

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#36 madjam
July 05 2013, 06:03AM
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Ottawa appears to be top contender for Clarkson - chances are pretty good he will go there to a set team and contender . Emery appears to be down to Philly or Chicago . Gotta admire Holmgren and Nill for there work getting talent despite being up against the cap max . Philly has to dump something to get Emery , but I doubt they want much salary back in other dealings (youth and draft picks because their prospect cupboards are bare ). Holmgren smart and he''ll get value for whomever he lets go .

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#37 Naky
July 05 2013, 06:46AM
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If MacTavish can pry Couturier and Coburn away from Holmgren, that will be a bold move. The Flyers simply can not take salary back, which means it would likely take a couple of high picks and a decent forward/defense prospect to get them. I say decent, because a really good prospect is one that's ready or nearly ready to make the NHL and again, the Flyers can't take on salary right now. Of course, Holmgren won't like doing that move but he's kinda done it to himself. It's just a matter of finding out exactly how much he can extract in terms of a quality return. If I'm MacT, I certainly don't mind gambling with that first round pick for next year in the package for a quality return like Couturier and Coburn.

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#38 StHenriOilBomb
July 05 2013, 06:53AM
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madjam wrote:

Ottawa appears to be top contender for Clarkson - chances are pretty good he will go there to a set team and contender . Emery appears to be down to Philly or Chicago . Gotta admire Holmgren and Nill for there work getting talent despite being up against the cap max . Philly has to dump something to get Emery , but I doubt they want much salary back in other dealings (youth and draft picks because their prospect cupboards are bare ). Holmgren smart and he''ll get value for whomever he lets go .

If Ottawa won't pay 6m for Alfie, how can we expect them to be seriously in on Clarkson?

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#39 oilfan
July 05 2013, 07:01AM
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@Mr common sense

Completely agree on both counts. I think Thomas still has some mileage in him and I think Miller could be a clutch goalie that can steal some games. Only concern with Clarkson is not making the same mistake we made with Horcoff in the first place. I liked the player, but not his contract. Feel somewhat hesitant about signing someone to similar or higher numbers once again only to find out we get burned.

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#40 Oiler Al
July 05 2013, 07:03AM
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Not counting the Canucks, all the other Canadian teams have tons of cap space.. seems no one wants to come play in Canada. Can't be that all the Canadian GM's are that dumb, or maybe that smart... spending crazy dollars on mid talent guys.

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#41 Smokey
July 05 2013, 07:41AM
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Shopping list. Scuderi, ,Cooke, Lapierre, Clarkson, Labarbera.

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#42 Jason
July 05 2013, 07:46AM
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Sounds like the Oilers are going on a shopping spree. I hope they don't go crazy, they can't build a team through free agency. Ask the Blue Jays about chemistry.

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#43 Oilfan
July 05 2013, 08:02AM
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What do you guys think about Grabovski? With Leafs buying him out, being a centre, maybe go after a guy with 29G two years ago, 23G last year, and 9G this past season. Drop in production associated with changes in coaching? No one has mentioned him at all it seems.

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#44 JB
July 05 2013, 08:06AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Don't know about likely, but MacT is all over Homer on this one. I expect to see another D-man added (don't know who) as well.

Does a N. Schultz + prospect for Coburn deal make sense? Saves PHI $1 million in cap space, removes a long-term commitment, and gives them a solid defender for a year. EDM gets a longer term upgrade of some proportion.

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#45 rob
July 05 2013, 08:06AM
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Mact did good with the horcff trade,hope he has lots planned for today,just hope we dont pay clarkson 6/millper thought(love to have him)just thats to much of a overpay!

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#46 Serious Gord
July 05 2013, 08:07AM
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Definition(s) of "bold": 1. Fearless and daring; courageous. 2. Requiring or exhibiting courage and bravery.

Nothing "Bold" about trading Horcoff. It looks like a good deal - one that I think the stars are also happy with. But not moving Horcoff would have been the more bold move under the circumstances. The inertia has been towards moving him for a very long time.

It does however set the stage - as you point out robin - for more significant "action"

Getting MacArthur - a friend of the Newly installed Marlies cabal would be a mistake - third line toughness is not what we need - we need 1-2 line toughness.

Clarke would be a Bold move in that KL&M would have to part with lots of dough and term with the possibility that he could become Horcoff 2.0 in a couple of years.

My preference would be a trade of gagner and or hemsky to get a player already under contract. Now that would be bold.

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#47 michael
July 05 2013, 08:08AM
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bazmagoo wrote:

I keep looking at the Flyers d numbers and I see a lot of cap space taken (while factoring in Pronger on LTIR). No one wants Meszaros, and the 2nd most likely to leave Philly is Coburn. Would free up a ton of cap room for Philly.

Your right Mezzaros is a dog. Coburn is the stud. I'd put the screws to Holmgren now and this is what I would offer him. Nothing. That's' right. A bag of pucks. Future considerations. The 2016 7th round pick that Dallas just gave us. Here is what I want in exchange. I want Mezzaros and I want Sean Coutier/Brayden Shenn. needs Coburn. They are loaded and locked up front. They won't be able to afford Coutier or/and Shenn moving forward. Mezzaros? Use a compliance buyout on him and show him the door.

Robin was Belanger a compliance buyout or a regular buyout with salary still against the cap?I did not hear them say when they announced his departure.

Hemsky to Pheonix? Hemsky to Florida? Perfect hidey hole for Hemsky. Both places wouldn't notice if he did not break a sweat at practice or not do any community stuff.

Of the 2 I will miss Horcoff. A good Oiler but its time to move on. Less pressure and responsibility in Big D should be good for Horc and his family. Not easy being an Oiler in best of times never mind these past 7 years.

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#48 michael
July 05 2013, 08:17AM
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Oilfan wrote:

What do you guys think about Grabovski? With Leafs buying him out, being a centre, maybe go after a guy with 29G two years ago, 23G last year, and 9G this past season. Drop in production associated with changes in coaching? No one has mentioned him at all it seems.

That is the same question MacT probably asked Dallas Eakins yesterday when he heard that Grabbo was being bought out. Fly on the wall there would know the answer. For me I take a look see what his asking price is and if its in the 2 million dollar range I would sign him. I worry that RNH won't be up to game conditioning by the time the season starts. Grabbo could easily fit in on the center spot on the second line. He could be a useful 3rd center because of his speed.Again though at what price.

With Ference and Macaurther both possibilities to sign here you think that the local boys smell the winds of change in Edmonton.New Arena in 2 years. Hall etal maturing. Get in while the gettings good.

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#49 Fresh Mess
July 05 2013, 08:26AM
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Signing Clarkson to a 7 year deal for over 5 million per would be monumentally stupid and reckless. Let some other brain damaged ex-player GM offer that contract. The Oilers don't need the UFA market now with the cap space they have.

Also if we can all agree The Oilers are in the drivers seat due to their cap space, why would they pay the ridiculously steep prices some of you are suggesting to relieve cap strapped teams of large contracts? These teams HAVE to purge these contracts. Offer them spare parts or late round picks and let them blink first.

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#50 michael
July 05 2013, 08:39AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Signing Clarkson to a 7 year deal for over 5 million per would be monumentally stupid and reckless. Let some other brain damaged ex-player GM offer that contract. The Oilers don't need the UFA market now with the cap space they have.

Also if we can all agree The Oilers are in the drivers seat due to their cap space, why would they pay the ridiculously steep prices some of you are suggesting to relieve cap strapped teams of large contracts? These teams HAVE to purge these contracts. Offer them spare parts or late round picks and let them blink first.

My thought exactly. Philly needs relief. Rangers need relief. Use the compliance buyouts as a tool to get the player/prospects you want.

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