Boyd Gordon: Third Line Centre

Jonathan Willis
July 06 2013 09:32AM

Any questions as to what Boyd Gordon’s role with the Edmonton Oilers in 2013-14 were answered by general manager Craig MacTavish during his media availability on Friday. “He’s going to fit in very nicely into that number three [centre] hole,” MacTavish said.

Lowetide wrote about Gordon last night, and his view is certainly worth reading. My perspective is slightly different.

Five Years: Gordon

Year GP CorsiRel QcRk. ZS PTS/60
2012-13 48 0.6 6th 32.6 1.18
2011-12 75 -13.3 3rd 39.8 1.27
2010-11 60 -8.3 2nd 42.7 0.76
2009-10 36 -2.3 15th 45.1 2.24
2008-09 63 -19.4 12th 43.1 1.21

The chart above shows Boyd Gordon’s statistical performance in four statistical categories over the last five years; they’ll be familiar to regular readers but here’s a brief explanation:

  • CorsiRel. "Corsi" is shorthand for shot attempts plus/minus - all the shots, missed shots, and blocked shots that a player was on the ice for 5-on-5 over an average one-hour period. The "Rel" part stands for relative - what we're doing there is adjusting for team strength.
  • Quality of Competition rank. The player's rank among active forwards on his team in Behind the Net's Quality of Competition (we're using the Corsi-based one, though the site also offers a goal-based one and the difference between the two is small). This gives us an idea of the kind of opponents Gordon typically played against. Note: for years where he played for multiple teams, this is less helpful so I have excluded it.
  • ZoneStarts. Taking offensive zone and defensive zone faceoffs, and expressing them as a percentage. If a player was on the ice for 70 offensive zone faceoffs and 30 defensive zone faceoffs, he would have a 70% offensive zone start, and we'd expect him to do better than a player with 30 offensive zone and 70 defensive zone faceoffs (30% zone start).
  • 5-on-5 Points/60. Just like regular points, only adjusted for an average hour of ice-time.

The five-year record shows Gordon’s evolution from a pretty run of the mill depth forward to a legitimate shutdown centre. 2010-11 was his final campaign with the Washington Capitals, and the year where he saw a steep increase in the caliber of his opposition – all of a sudden he was playing guys like Briere and Hartnell and Grabovski and Kessel and Kovalchuk with regularity. Phoenix – they seem to have a knack for finding this type of player - snatched him up at a very reasonable $1.325 million price point on a two-year contract.

Gordon’s numbers really took off during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, and some of it probably had to do with the addition of David Moss – Moss has a very strong record as a possession forward when healthy, and Gordon’s numbers were notably better with Moss on his wing than when playing without him. Competent help isn’t a luxury Gordon has generally had; scrolling through a list of common linemates over the last five seasons, they are many, varied, and largely unimpressive.

Five Years: Horcoff

Year GP CorsiRel QcRk. ZS PTS/60
2012-13 31 -4.4 8th 42.1 1.34
2011-12 81 -1.0 1st 43.9 1.04
2010-11 47 7.0 1st 50.6 1.47
2009-10 77 0.6 2nd 45.3 1.37
2008-09 80 7.8 1st 40.2 1.59

Horcoff did a hard job for a long time and never really got the credit he deserved for it in Edmonton – though of course he did get a contract. He had something of a down year in 2012-13; on balance he played tougher opposition than Gordon and managed better results, but the flip side of that is he also generally played with better players (save for that ugly, ugly 2009-10 season). Dallas general manager Jim Nill is betting that Horcoff can hold this form or something close to it in Texas; if he does the Stars almost certainly have the better third-line centre. Horcoff does turn 35 in September, so it may well be that the Oilers are getting out at the right time.

My View

The Edmonton Oilers didn’t get better in adding Boyd Gordon and subtracting Shawn Horcoff. What they did manage was to move out a player who had become emblematic of the wasted post-2006 years, reduce the cap hit spent on that slot in the depth chart, and secure a younger replacement who was likely the best option on the market.

Initially, I didn’t like the deal – the dollars seemed excessive – but after looking at the minutes Gordon has played over the last five years, and who has played them with him, it doesn’t seem so bad. The dollars are less than ideal, but they aren’t that bad for a good player and a needed one.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Leafs Nation, Cam Charron has a lot of praise for David Clarkson, before getting to what worries him:

So we'll see what happens. I like Clarkson between ages 30 and 32 because he's shown a lot of improvement past the age when a player's prime usually ends, but I'm not confident that he'll age like fine wine. Eventually, he won't be a guy with an elevated shot rate that results in keeping his team above even in goals when he's on the ice, and the Leafs have probably bought multiple years of "old David Clarkson".

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

 

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Spot The Loon
July 06 2013, 09:40AM
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This gives us an idea of the kind of opponents Eager typically played against. Cut and paste error?

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#2 oliveoilers
July 06 2013, 09:42AM
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good article JW. Inspired by some moaning minnies? A few journalists are calling MacT the 'Magician' for managing to slip out of that Horcoff contract, so it's not as if we're getting bad press! Yes, we will overpay until it becomes fashionable to come to a winning environment for a fair price. We just need to suck it up buttercup until then. And those of you looking for the 'blockbuster' deals - they would actually involve giving one or more tangible assets up. We don't get our trades for nuthin', our UFA's for free.

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#3 admiralmark
July 06 2013, 09:49AM
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JW your "My View" is spot on. He is a critical piece needed if this team is going to progress. Slight overpay but he's young enough to go far with this core and Cap going up most likely will alleviate that concern. MacT just needs to fill in a few blanks around him in order to give him the best chance to succeed.

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#4 Dream_Theater
July 06 2013, 09:51AM
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I see that Richard Cloutier is reporting a huge trade between the Oil and Flyers... So you know that's never gonna happen. Who is that ass clown anyways? Also love the Gordon pick up, hopefully he earns that 3M per and not just a replacement for Horcoffs crap contract.

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#5 Ca$h-Money!
July 06 2013, 09:52AM
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What is a third line centre? What is a third line?

I look at it this way:

1st: Power line: offensive zone starts, tough comp 2nd: Offense First: offensive zone start, easier comp 3rd: Defence first: Defensive zone start, tough comp 4th: role players: Defensive zone start, easy comp.. players add value through some sort of specialist role (ideally PK or place for young players to learn the craft... alternative is the face puncher role)

If that's the case then Gordon is for sure a 3rd line center, in the Manny Malhotra mood. Patrice Bergeron played this role for a long time aswell.

To me, the 3rd line probably plays as many minutes as the second, sometimes more.

If we could define what we mean when we say _ line, it will help the conversation immensely.

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#6 Smokey
July 06 2013, 10:02AM
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@Dream_Theater

hi

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#7 K_Mart
July 06 2013, 10:04AM
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Well, so much for landing Grabovski. I figured Gordon as a great 4C for us, and was hoping to land Grabo as the 2/3 C to push Gags. Grabo is the same size as horc, utbut a better option in almost every regard except maybe choice of words when speaking to the media. Plus he BITES!!

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#8 Archaeologuy
July 06 2013, 10:11AM
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I like Gordon as a shut down type player, but if MacT wants a bottom six that can contribute offensively then he needs to keep finding more players. 10 goals would be a career high for Gordon and 20ish points is pretty reasonable to expect, but not much beyond that.

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#9 michael
July 06 2013, 10:11AM
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I see Gordon in a fourth line spot between Smyth and Acton.Ithink MacT wants some bang for his buck on the 3rd line and will try to increase the size and skill on his 3rd line. I like Gordon. I like Ference his fitness regime+Eakins philosophy. Also the guy does not have 2 bum feet like some other guy we let go. He plays physical unlike current roster dmen we have(coughPotter,N,Shultz). I like his compete. I can see a compliance buyout being used on a guy the OIlers receive in a trade with Philly. Meszaros is the guy they want to dump.They don't want to use a regular buyout on him because they don't have the cap space. The Oilers could use either on a guy like him and have the cap space. The cost would be high to Holmgren. If he decides that B.Shenn is expendable he also saves another 3.7 on the cap. he could conceivably trade to the OIlers B.Shenn and Meszaros for future considerations. The Oilers have been on B Shenns case since he was in LA. It will be fun to see what happens in the next few weeks. Does Pheonix come calling on Hemsky? Or the Rangers?

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#10 Oilersman
July 06 2013, 10:16AM
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Honestly, I'm hoping for not a big trade that brings a big 2 line center only because I can't see it being done without 1 of our great young assets going. Not sure if it can be done without going that route. MacT still has his work cut out for him. Maybe hiring Eakins will be the difference, get the boys to play competitive right to the end of the 3rd, and 2 top lines destroy everyone 4 on 4 and the shoot out. The way I see it, we will gain the much needed points with pure skill in the non regulation period. Just got to get us there every night.

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#11 oilredemption
July 06 2013, 10:18AM
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I wonder what the magician is going to do next. Reminds me of the Tambellini summer but thats subject for another day. The oilers still need that 2nd LW. Wonder if Andrew Ladd or Evander Kane could be had? If not the only option out there is Hartnell and i dont think hes really available.

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#12 Jackson
July 06 2013, 10:25AM
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Philly does have a lot of centers in their system including Scott Laughton.

Edmonton needs a center , Sean Couturier is the type of center Edmonton needs.

Trading Coburn and Couturier for X would be intriguing.

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#13 Smokey
July 06 2013, 10:29AM
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Dream_Theater wrote:

I see that Richard Cloutier is reporting a huge trade between the Oil and Flyers... So you know that's never gonna happen. Who is that ass clown anyways? Also love the Gordon pick up, hopefully he earns that 3M per and not just a replacement for Horcoffs crap contract.

Cloutier is fiction...I think he`s like the rest of dreaming of that big trade.

I think Coburn to Oilers is an old rumour and has run its course. Philly is not in as bad of cap shape as people think. They got 24 contracts and can bury some, or put the Rake on LTIR. I think there is a deal to be made for Schenn or Couturier because their depth at Center is astonishing. Giroux, VL, Couturier, Schenn and probably others. Right now they should be able to get top value for an ELC contract for either Schenn or Couturier. The argument against is that they are cheep now, and next year would be the year to deal one of them. I think Holmgren sees ultimately no point having 4 offensive centers. I think the opposite is true of Philly and they are looking for defence, and probably a top four. They got the assets to get one. Would Smid, MPS net you Schenn or Couturier and a second. I dunno. All I know is my rumours seem more plausible then Hockeybuzz.

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#14 Fresh Mess
July 06 2013, 10:31AM
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I can't believe Chicago gave Khabibulin 2 million bucks for one year. The NHL is an idiotic business.

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#15 Glen
July 06 2013, 10:34AM
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@Fresh Mess

He is not a bad backup goalie when he is rested and healthy.

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#16 Bucknuck
July 06 2013, 10:37AM
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Jackson wrote:

Philly does have a lot of centers in their system including Scott Laughton.

Edmonton needs a center , Sean Couturier is the type of center Edmonton needs.

Trading Coburn and Couturier for X would be intriguing.

I don't think Couturier is the kind of centre Edmonton needs. He's worse on faceoffs than Gagner, his point production stinks (so far) and he's not experienced enough to face good competition yet. Giving up the farm for him would be a mistake, no matter how highly he was once rated while in Junior.

EDIT OK... a fellow poster named Jackson illuminated some facts for me about Couturier's defensive play. I take it back. He can play for the Oil.

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#17 oilbaron
July 06 2013, 10:38AM
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If we look at the amount of cap space we generated by trading horcoff I say it was a win win. We subtracted I very good yet over paid 3rd line center for an above average 3rd Line center in Gordon and a top 4 Defenseman in Ference who knows what it takes to win. Good moves by MacT.

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#18 Steve
July 06 2013, 10:41AM
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Can people stop complaining about the amount Gordon signed for? 3 million bucks is what we will have to pay people to play here. Who would you rather have Gordon at 3 million or Nystrom at 2.5 million? It's a solid signing and is multipurpose.

Lets see what else MacT has in store. He hasn't addressed the real problem with this team, size, skill for the top 6 and grit. He lost out on a few gritty players so I'm not sure where he goes from here other than a trade. Perhaps Coburn and Hartnell come over from Philly and give them much needed cap space.

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#19 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 06 2013, 10:45AM
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How long till all these, so called overpays, come home to roost? If Edmonton has to overpay for role players such as Gordon. What will that do to the Oilers cap situation in 5 yrs when/if they're running with the top teams in the league.

Maybe Bettman could add 20% to the Oilers cap to accommodate for this, so called "Northern Living Allowance". Not going to happen I know, but when is this accepted "Edmonton has to overpay" going to bite them in the arse?

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#20 tileguy
July 06 2013, 10:46AM
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First meeting with Minny and I see Mike Brown and Ben Eager tag teaming Matt Cooke, ewwwwwwh I need a kleenex.

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#21 tileguy
July 06 2013, 10:49AM
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ooops my bad, the wild are not in our division any more, somebody else can take care of Cooke. sorry, Yeah Gordon, boo Horcoff.

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#22 Jackson
July 06 2013, 10:50AM
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@Bucknuck

Really? Behind the net tells a different story

http://www.behindthenet.ca/nhl_statistics.php?ds=30&s=13&f1=2012_s&f2=5v5&f4=C+LW+RW&f5=PHI&f7=40-&c=0+1+3+5+4+6+7+8+13+14+29+30+32+33+34+45+46+63+67

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#23 Jackson
July 06 2013, 10:52AM
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@Bucknuck

Really

http://www.broadstreethockey.com/2013/2/26/4032650/sean-couturier-stats-defense-flyers

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#24 shea78
July 06 2013, 10:54AM
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I think schenn would be a great fit here as a second line center. He is 6' 1" and 200lbs , but he plays bigger. He's got one more year left on his ELC and then he's gonna need a raise. Philly has put themselves in a tough position. I wouldn't be opposed to taking on a Meszaros contract. He's got 1 year left at 4mil. Big deal. His only knock is he has a problem staying healthy. We just picked up a sh?t tonne of D men that can fill in if needed.

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#25 Rama Lama
July 06 2013, 10:55AM
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I hope that Mac T looks east or whereever Brad Boyes is, and signs this guy as the top six guy that he has been looking for.

He is big, strong, versitile, and can score. I cant beleive that he is still available!!

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#26 Bucknuck
July 06 2013, 10:56AM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

How long till all these, so called overpays, come home to roost? If Edmonton has to overpay for role players such as Gordon. What will that do to the Oilers cap situation in 5 yrs when/if they're running with the top teams in the league.

Maybe Bettman could add 20% to the Oilers cap to accommodate for this, so called "Northern Living Allowance". Not going to happen I know, but when is this accepted "Edmonton has to overpay" going to bite them in the arse?

2 of the 5 top players are locked in, so add 9M to the entry level deals to bring them up into Hall territory and you have a better idea what the cap situation will look like.

They currently have 13M in cap space (you can add 5M for Hemsky leaving, then take it away when Gagner signs). That would leave 4M in cap room, and still some depth roles to fill.

It's tight, but manageable right now. They just better be careful. Overpaying for a good shutdown centre is fine with me, since they are SO important. Overpaying for a knuckledraggin winger or two bit defenseman. Not good.

We shall see.

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#27 Bucknuck
July 06 2013, 10:58AM
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Jackson wrote:

Really

http://www.broadstreethockey.com/2013/2/26/4032650/sean-couturier-stats-defense-flyers

You're a good man Jackson. Thank you for that. After reading this little tidbit, Couturier can play on my team.

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#28 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 06 2013, 10:59AM
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Jackson wrote:

Really

http://www.broadstreethockey.com/2013/2/26/4032650/sean-couturier-stats-defense-flyers

Great piece there Action. Thanks for that read.

Pulling for Couturier but hoping MacTavish can get him or Schenn.

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#29 Sammy
July 06 2013, 11:01AM
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If Braydon Coburn is so good why would a team the needs D-men want to trade him? Don't answer cost, because you would find a way.?

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#30 Edsez
July 06 2013, 11:02AM
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@K_Mart

"Well, so much for landing Grabovski."

I'm not deadset against still taking a look at him. The buyout, meltdown and chip on his shoulder might get a team making the right pitch a discounted contract and a highly-motivated, skilled player.

he's still getting $14.3 mil from his buyout (he had 4 yrs and $21mil in actual salary remaing on his contract) ....... he'd be worth the risk of the $7 mil he's losing over 3 years

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#31 EHH Team
July 06 2013, 11:09AM
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Willis, between Couturier & Schenn, who do you think is the better player right now? Who do you think has the greater upside?

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#32 a lg dubl dubl
July 06 2013, 11:10AM
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Doesn't Hartnell have a NTC?

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#33 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 06 2013, 11:13AM
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a lg dubl dubl wrote:

Doesn't Hartnell have a NTC?

Yes, as well as 6 yrs at 4.75 I believe. I'd take him, but not ahead of Sean or Braydon.

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#34 Ron Burgundy
July 06 2013, 11:18AM
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K_Mart wrote:

Well, so much for landing Grabovski. I figured Gordon as a great 4C for us, and was hoping to land Grabo as the 2/3 C to push Gags. Grabo is the same size as horc, utbut a better option in almost every regard except maybe choice of words when speaking to the media. Plus he BITES!!

I'm with you that MacT should still be looking hard at Grabovski for the 2C role. Not only would this put some pressure on Sam (as we can probably sign Grabo for $4-$4.5MM), it would allow us to move Samwise to 2LW, and would give us options other than Smytty for times when someone else goes down. Depth at C is not a bad thing...

Fun Grabovski facts: - won more than 50% of his draws last year - last year was a travesty on the stat sheet otherwise, but Burke was interviewed last night and disclosed that he had some sort of illness at the start of the year, plus we all know (from the horse's mouth) that Grabo wasn't happy with his role on the 3rd/4th line. - the 2 seasons prior (in a scoring role) Grabo scored 51 pts (would have been good for 4th on the Oilers), and 58 the year before that (would have led all Oilers, by a wide margin) - we don't give up anything to acquire him (except some of Mr. Katz's hard-earned dough) - born in Potsdam, Germany, site of the famous meetings between Churchill, Stalin and Truman that, in many ways, kicked off the cold war. So he's got that going for him.

There is also the Eakins connection - if we end up signing him we can have some pretty good assurance that he's a player. Not seeing many reasons why we wouldn't be hard after this guy (other than our favorite old chestnut the lack of size...)

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#35 Mikey
July 06 2013, 11:21AM
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Rama Lama wrote:

I hope that Mac T looks east or whereever Brad Boyes is, and signs this guy as the top six guy that he has been looking for.

He is big, strong, versitile, and can score. I cant beleive that he is still available!!

I like Brad Boyes as well. He was playing for NYI.

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#38 Michael
July 06 2013, 11:25AM
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That Giroux contract kiks in next year 8 million per. Heck that is a lot of dough. Do the Flyers get Cap relief for Pronger because he is on LITR. if he retires is he entitled to the rest of the contract? Philly is between a rok and a hard place and I am willing to be every GM in the league is willing to alleviate him of his best prospects at the cost of a bad contract or 2. Those with Cap space anyways.

You know who has been silent.The Sabres. Can you hear the crickets.Is Vanek still in play? Also where is Sather in all this mess. Hasn't spent a dime. Or a nickle. He has Lundquist to pay and he still has a whack of money to give to some of his RFA's. Nashville has done well to bolster their roster. Minny? Oi that Heatly deal has come home to bite them in the ass. Ottawa? They get Ryan? How is he available? And Why was he available?

Fun times.

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#39 a lg dubl dubl
July 06 2013, 11:31AM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Yes, as well as 6 yrs at 4.75 I believe. I'd take him, but not ahead of Sean or Braydon.

Thanks Quick, Hartnell would be great on the 2nd line.

Im curious though, with Gordon as the 3rd C down the middle right now looks like this

RNH(when 100%)

Gagner

Gordon

Lander/Acton

Say MacT does get Couturier or B. Shenn, do they bump Gagner to the wing or would Gordon like playing 4th line min and PK time while Gagner and one of the other 2 guys(BS,SC) duke it out for the 2nd/3rd line C.

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#40 BArmstrong
July 06 2013, 11:32AM
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@Michael

Yup - Philly has cap woes alright. Next season they have 12.7 million to sign 9 contracts, including a goaltender. If the cap doesn't go up by 10 million, they're in it deep.

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#41 RexLibris
July 06 2013, 11:33AM
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A deal that would bring in both Coburn and Couturier would cost the Oilers something more valuable than simply talent: cheap talent.

Of that we have two, Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov and I don't see MacTavish parting with either of them. Certainly not Nugent-Hopkins.

If MacTavish could somehow get Holmgren's reproductive organs in a vice and get him to trade both those players for Smid, Paajarvi, a 1st and one or two prospects, then I'd be over the moon. However, I'm not certain that is going to happen.

Johansen and Tyutin is a similar deal but perhaps slightly closer to the Oilers' price range and I'm not even certain that deal could happen.

Love it if either one does come to pass.

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#42 BArmstrong
July 06 2013, 11:33AM
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@Michael

Oh, and yes these are fun times*

*don't let Madjam know:)

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#43 a lg dubl dubl
July 06 2013, 11:39AM
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I think Simone Gagne is still a FA, Id like him on the team just to fcuk with all the people on here lol

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#44 Edsez
July 06 2013, 11:40AM
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@Ron Burgundy

I'm with you that Grabovski would be a quality pick up and he's certainly worth than the $7 mil my pipe dreams are made of (few posts up)

if Grabovski signs for $4-4.5 at any term more than 1 year he actually will increase his income as a result of the buyout (Lecavalier is ahead a few mil as well).

He should be thanking the Leafs

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#45 sammy
July 06 2013, 11:46AM
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@RexLibris

I would suspect it would take MPS + high D prospect + draft picks + roster player

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#46 a lg dubl dubl
July 06 2013, 11:47AM
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@Edsez

fun fact: Vinny is actually in line to make just over 10 mil this season thanks to his buyout lol

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#47 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 06 2013, 11:48AM
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@a lg dubl dubl

Say MacT does get Couturier or B. Shenn, do they bump Gagner to the wing or would Gordon like playing 4th line min and PK time while Gagner and one of the other 2 guys(BS,SC) duke it out for the 2nd/3rd line C. ______________________________________________________________________

If Craig is fortunate enough to land Couturier or Schenn, I let Gagner sit for a few weeks. This may not be a popular opinion here but i'm hoping someone signs him to an RFA offer sheet. Get Brad Boyes in here for 2 yrs. Edmonton could sure use an extra 1st 2nd and 3rd rounder next summer. With Couturier/Schenn here, along with Ference and Coburn, i'd call it for trades as far as this summer goes. Sign/resign free agents for the holes that are left in the lineup. Rome wasn't built in a day, see if someones desperate for Hemsky and reload, continue to try and improve the club during the season and next summer. More opportunities will present themselves i'm sure.

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#48 OilersBrass
July 06 2013, 11:50AM
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Noooo Mac T! Why did you have to trade away Kyle Bigos :(

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#49 Edsez
July 06 2013, 11:55AM
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@a lg dubl dubl

makes the pain of rejection go away that much faster

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#50 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 06 2013, 12:00PM
Trash it!
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@a lg dubl dubl

Lecavilier has been making 10 million per for 4 yrs already. He will be a legend when he retires. He has a solid shot to be the player who made the most money during his career as a player. Think Jagr holds the lead right now as far as career earnings go.

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