CLIFFORD: OFFER SHEET?

Jason Gregor
July 09 2013 05:47PM

 

It is obvious the Oilers need a winger with size, grit and a willingness to go to the tough areas to play in their top-six. They don't have one on the roster, and no one in the system is NHL-ready. If I was Craig MacTavish, I would sign RFA Kyle Clifford to an offer sheet.
 
I would offer him a one-year deal between $2.7- $3 million. 

This is why I believe Clifford makes sense.

  • He's the type of player they need, and it doesn't matter that he hasn't been a top-six forward thus far, because very few teams have six actual "top-six" forwards.
     
  • The compensation is only a 2nd round pick. Clifford was the 35th pick in 2009. He's already played three years in the NHL, and the chance that 2nd round pick turns out to be as good as Clifford is extremely low.
     
  • The Kings only have $5 million in cap space and they need to sign fourplayers. If they matched the offer sheet, they'd have a hard time singing both Jordan Nolan and Trevor Lewis.
     
  • Clifford isn't a regular 2nd liner, when you look at his offensive numbers, but if he played regularly with two of Nugent-Hopkins, Hall, Eberle, Gagner or Yakupov he'd improve and put up okay numbers.
     
  • His style of play is exactly the type of complimentary player the Oilers need to play alongside their skilled forwards.
     
  • Before you say he's only scored 7 goals, keep in mind he did that in 48 games this season. Is it possible he could score 15 in a full season playing alongside RNH, Hall, Yakupov, Gagner or Eberle? I think so.
     
  • Also, don't get hung up on points. His contribution would be more than just points. He would bring an element of tenacity, grit and toughness that the top-six lacks. His style of play could create more room for the skilled players.

TOP-SIX FORWARDS

Very few teams have six top-six forwards. The Blackhawks just won the Cup with Michal Handzus and Bryan Bickell in their top-six. Were they considered top-six forwards at the start of the year, or even late in the year? Didn't think so.

The past three full NHL seasons the 180th forward (six per team) had 32, 34 and 33 points. Is it completely ridiculous to believe Clifford could pot 28-33 points playing 15-16 minutes a night on the Oilers top-two lines, or mixed in at times on the 3rd line?

RISKS

  • Would it be an overpayment? Based on what he done so far in his career, yes, but it would only be a one-year deal. If he can't handle being a top-six forward, the Oilers could still look at re-signing as a bottom six for a lower contract next year.
     
  • If he has a good season, you'd have to pay him $3 million again, but that means he's produced so that shouldn't be a big issue. He's only 22 and he could mature and grow with the other young forwards.
     
  • I don't buy that if the Oilers offer sheet him the Kings will be looking for revenge in the future. The Oilers don't have cap issues moving forward, and they shoud have no problem extending Nugent-Hopkins and J.Schultz next season. This is business not personal, and if Dean Lombardi gets upset, oh well.
     
  • The Oilers and Ducks have made trades since the Dustin Penner offer sheet, so the Oilers shouldn't be concerned about potential backlash from the Kings.
     
  • I'd consider this a bold move, because the Oilers would thinking outside the box. Clifford is the type of player they need, and even though he hasn't shown he is a top-six forward yet, he also hasn't been given the opportunity on a very deep LA Kings team.

Clifford would sign the offer sheet in a heartbeat, I'm just not sure if the Kings would match it or settle for the 2nd round pick?

I think the risk is worth the potential reward.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Mikey
July 09 2013, 06:04PM
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I was listening to you on the radio today, and you bring up some good points about Clifford. Watching him play, I really like what he brings, not sure what he could do in a top 6 roll. But why not trade for his rights before an offer sheet?

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#2 gr8one
July 09 2013, 06:07PM
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Or, he could be JF Jacques.

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#3 DieHard
July 09 2013, 06:09PM
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This is exactly what a non-destination team such as the Oilers should be doing.

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#4 Jay H
July 09 2013, 06:12PM
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I like the idea, but if the Kings weren't willing to match the offer, I think it probably speaks to his actual value (if he was worth it, they'd work around the cap issues by moving other guys).

The only issue I see with it is the fact that the team almost always matches an offer sheet, but it results in driving up the price of this type of player going forward. Penner was the exception, obviously.

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#5 westcoastoil
July 09 2013, 06:16PM
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JG - you should join the pro scouting staff! Seriously, I've been thinking on this and never Clifford never occurred to me. Like Mikey said, they could try and trade for him first with the threat they'll offer sheet him if they can't make a deal. Based on other options, giving Clifford a shot an 2LW, knowing that if he stumbles for a spell MPS might be able to fill in at times is a deal I'd make.

One issue that it will create though is contract pricing on MPS. Different styles of players, but MPS has more point in 50ish fewer games. You'd have resign him first to a multi-year, otherwise you're driving the price up on yourself. No?

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#6 OilersBrass
July 09 2013, 06:16PM
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Couldn't they just see about getting his rights for a 2nd round pick instead of just giving him an offer sheet?

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#7 T__Bone88
July 09 2013, 06:16PM
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It would be a smart tactic but maybe go 2-3 years on the term to really get them to consider not matching. If Edm did threaten with an offer sheet would possibly LA consider making a bigger deal with Hemsky (50% salary retained) paajarvi and draft picks in exchange for Clifford and Justin Williams. Williams almost seems like a possible cap dump candidate here eventually if LA intends on re-signing Dustin Brown and Matt Greene next year.

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#8 Benny Botts
July 09 2013, 06:17PM
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gr8one wrote:

Or, he could be JF Jacques.

I don't know how many times you have watched clifford play. But their totally totally different players. JF you had to use a caddle prod to get any life into him. Clifford is big, fast, tough and always looking to get engaged in something. Never lets you off the hook. To compare the two does not make any sense.

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#9 Naky
July 09 2013, 06:20PM
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Haha if I were Lombardi and this happened, I'd probably pull a dick move and sign Paajarvi to the same length and term deal just out of spite knowing full well that the Oilers would match. They'd be vastly overpaying not just Clifford but also Paajarvi at this stage of the game and Craig would have a very classic wet cat look on his face announcing the match.

It's juvenile but I know I'd get a certain sense of satisfaction out of it if I were Lombardi.

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#10 nugeishuge14
July 09 2013, 06:20PM
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Yes, clifford definetly be on our but id rather trade for him and sign for less

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#11 Jack
July 09 2013, 06:21PM
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The man capable of deceiving himself is much more dangerous than the man capable only of deceiving others

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#12 The Real Scuba Steve
July 09 2013, 06:25PM
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GO FOR IT!!! It's only improve the team.

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#13 Steve
July 09 2013, 06:26PM
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If they offer him a signing bonus of, say, 1.5M plus a 1.5M salary the RFA compensation is the same but the QO should only be 1.5M at the end of the year. Is that right?

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#14 madjam
July 09 2013, 06:31PM
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Unlikely L.A. would not match if it's only a second in return for them . They might even sign him to be traded rather than let us have him cheaply . I'd like Adam Henrique , but I doubt Jersey would not match it . Closer to home how about an offer sheet for Gagner . Would we match it ?

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#15 Copper
July 09 2013, 06:33PM
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Jason, thought you've said we need veterans? We have legitImate top 6 forwards now. All score more than 45 pts now. Hall is the power forward we need. Looks like Yak will be too. We need gritty lower 6 players that can score 20+ pts. If you really want to make an RFA offer sheet, it should be too Stewart 5M x 5 years. 1st + 3rd. Veteran whow would score 50+ pts

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#16 bwar
July 09 2013, 06:36PM
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I think I'm more comfortable with PRV as the 2L. I think Clifford would still be a great addition. Could have him with Gordon and Hemsky on the third. Would look pretty nice in my eyes.

Just as a side note any chance we can get someone to stir up the Flyers trade rumors again?

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#17 Walter Sobchak
July 09 2013, 06:43PM
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I honestly would do this! What kind of backlash has Philadelphia seen since the Weber offer sheet?

While MacTavish is at it, go for Pietrangelo as well!

Enough of this pussy footing around already!

Quit begging teams to deal with you! Use the system to your advantage, the Oilers owe it to themselves and to the fans to put the best product on the ice.

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#18 CC
July 09 2013, 06:48PM
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I mentioned this player a couple of days ago on LT's site as a guy MacT should target. I would rather they sign a guy like this to a two or three year deal than go whale hunting for Clarkson.

This year his even strength G/60 (.897) & PTS/60 (1.665) was better than Penner, Clarkson & Clowe. While playing primarily with Fraser & Nolan. He played down in the lineup, but at this point in his career he's better than both of those players. His advanced stats are decent. If you look at his WOWY stats he killed it when playing with Richards & Carter. His advanced stats are good. Here's a guy that could join Gagner & Yakupov on the soft parade and fill Horcoff's role on the PP. Based on his numbers from last season if he played 12 minutes a night on evens, he should be able to put up 15 - 20 goals easily.

If he's that good of a play why would the Kings trade him? The Kings are up against the cap and would be in tough if either him or Martinez were to get an offer sheet. I'd call Lombardi up and offer a 2nd and a B-level prospect (Musil, perhaps Gernat) and see if they'd be interested, knowing that they are in a different division they probably wouldn't take it. If they aren't would consider signing him to an offer sheet.

If MacT could sign this guy I think it would be a big win for the team.

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#19 Supernova
July 09 2013, 06:48PM
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I would do this, I would resign Magnus and Gagner first, just so there isn't just a counter offer to drive up the price.

I always have thought the NHL GM's club is far too cautious when it comes to RFA's, at the very least if ( and most likely) LA matches you have pinched them salary wise and they have to move out a different body, so you have weakened your opposition.

Sign MPS and Gags. Offer sheet Pietrangelo to $7.5 a year for 8 years. Blues will match Offer sheet or trade for Stewart if this fails Offer sheet Clifford.

Even if you come out empty handed you have tilted the balance in the west.

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#20 Supernova
July 09 2013, 06:51PM
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madjam wrote:

Unlikely L.A. would not match if it's only a second in return for them . They might even sign him to be traded rather than let us have him cheaply . I'd like Adam Henrique , but I doubt Jersey would not match it . Closer to home how about an offer sheet for Gagner . Would we match it ?

If they match the offer sheet they can't trade him for one year, to the date of signing.

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#21 eastcoastoil
July 09 2013, 06:52PM
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I don't understand the need for the offer sheet to Clifford. There are FA out there that fill our needs.

Nik Antropov, Grabo, Malhotra(4c), Penner, Gomez(4C).

Nik or Grabo on the second line with Gagner and Yak?

Gagner and Yak with Penner.

Competition for the 4C.

I realize all these players have warts but a incentive laden low balled 1 year deal might get you a couple of them.

What about a offer sheet out to Pietrangelo?

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#22 Paq Twinn
July 09 2013, 07:01PM
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I freaking love this idea! Stroke of genius Gregor! Forward this piece to the Oilers ASAP!

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#23 DSF
July 09 2013, 07:02PM
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With Willie Mitchell likely going on LTIR (Lombardi already signed Jeff Schultz for $700K to replace him), the Kings will have close to $9M in cap space to sign Clifford, Nolan, Lewis, Martinez and Muzzin.

I'm sure an offer sheet with a $3M salary attached would land you Clifford but anyone making that kind of offer should be taken out behind the woodshed and shot.

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#24 Rickyhb69
July 09 2013, 07:07PM
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I like the cut of your jib.

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#25 Paq Twinn
July 09 2013, 07:08PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

I honestly would do this! What kind of backlash has Philadelphia seen since the Weber offer sheet?

While MacTavish is at it, go for Pietrangelo as well!

Enough of this pussy footing around already!

Quit begging teams to deal with you! Use the system to your advantage, the Oilers owe it to themselves and to the fans to put the best product on the ice.

YES!

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#26 Paq Twinn
July 09 2013, 07:11PM
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Supernova wrote:

I would do this, I would resign Magnus and Gagner first, just so there isn't just a counter offer to drive up the price.

I always have thought the NHL GM's club is far too cautious when it comes to RFA's, at the very least if ( and most likely) LA matches you have pinched them salary wise and they have to move out a different body, so you have weakened your opposition.

Sign MPS and Gags. Offer sheet Pietrangelo to $7.5 a year for 8 years. Blues will match Offer sheet or trade for Stewart if this fails Offer sheet Clifford.

Even if you come out empty handed you have tilted the balance in the west.

Great ideas but we can only offer 7 yr term to free agents drafted else where.

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#27 kjml
July 09 2013, 07:18PM
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Jets got Setoguchi for a second round pick. Do you consider Clifford as good as setoguchi?

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#28 Paq Twinn
July 09 2013, 07:18PM
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eastcoastoil wrote:

I don't understand the need for the offer sheet to Clifford. There are FA out there that fill our needs.

Nik Antropov, Grabo, Malhotra(4c), Penner, Gomez(4C).

Nik or Grabo on the second line with Gagner and Yak?

Gagner and Yak with Penner.

Competition for the 4C.

I realize all these players have warts but a incentive laden low balled 1 year deal might get you a couple of them.

What about a offer sheet out to Pietrangelo?

Some of these players have warts and the theres the blind one. Vancouver wouldn't play Malholtra because he can't pass the visual tests. Penner ain't comin back Antropov is way to slow. Grabovski is intriguing and I don't really see a fit with Gomez....he's probably looking at contenders.

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#29 kjml
July 09 2013, 07:22PM
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@Paq Twinn

Why not try out 6'2'' 204lbs UFA Peter Mueller as a 2nd or 3rd line guy for 1.5 million instead

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#30 GVBlackhawk
July 09 2013, 07:26PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

I honestly would do this! What kind of backlash has Philadelphia seen since the Weber offer sheet?

While MacTavish is at it, go for Pietrangelo as well!

Enough of this pussy footing around already!

Quit begging teams to deal with you! Use the system to your advantage, the Oilers owe it to themselves and to the fans to put the best product on the ice.

Exactly Wes. There are several RFA offer sheet targets that would do a lot to help the Oilers. Time for management to get some balls and make some 'unorthodox' decisions with respect to getting some better players. Right now it is just more of the same.

Sounds like Klefbom is going to be given a roster spot right out of training camp. The alternative would be letting him play in in OKC for 45 games, thus saving the Oilers an additional year of free agency. Do you think management even thinks about these details? Gauging how things are going with Sam Gagner, I'm going to go with 'no'.

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#31 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 09 2013, 07:26PM
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Penner and Clifford would fill up the left side nicely. Dustin 2nd line and Clifford for 3rd line duties. Either could move up or down your lineup when needed. Penner on a two yr deal will buy some time to make a deal or grow their own. This time next year they'll have yet another vacancy on the left side with Smyth retiring.

Push Pajaarvi down the depth chart, or move him. Think the Oilers aren't in any hurry to sign Gagner because they're hoping someone will offer sheet him. Hopefully a desperate bottom 10 team like Lowe had/did a few yrs ago.

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#32 Wheresyourtowel
July 09 2013, 07:32PM
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DSF wrote:

With Willie Mitchell likely going on LTIR (Lombardi already signed Jeff Schultz for $700K to replace him), the Kings will have close to $9M in cap space to sign Clifford, Nolan, Lewis, Martinez and Muzzin.

I'm sure an offer sheet with a $3M salary attached would land you Clifford but anyone making that kind of offer should be taken out behind the woodshed and shot.

And I thought MY woodshed growing up was in a rough neighbourhood.

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#33 Benny Botts
July 09 2013, 07:36PM
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eastcoastoil wrote:

I don't understand the need for the offer sheet to Clifford. There are FA out there that fill our needs.

Nik Antropov, Grabo, Malhotra(4c), Penner, Gomez(4C).

Nik or Grabo on the second line with Gagner and Yak?

Gagner and Yak with Penner.

Competition for the 4C.

I realize all these players have warts but a incentive laden low balled 1 year deal might get you a couple of them.

What about a offer sheet out to Pietrangelo?

Again as I stated in a comment earlier. I dont think you have watched clifford enough, but he brings so many things to the table that this young oilers squad does not have and desperately needs! Size, jam, attitude, leadership and some decent skill.

Why add Antropov, grabo, penner and gomez! Are a couple of them upgrades on some other parts of our line up..maybe. However they are soft players, players that this team does not need. We have the skill to win in the top 6, to add more soft skill does this team no good. IMO

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#34 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 09 2013, 07:37PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

I honestly would do this! What kind of backlash has Philadelphia seen since the Weber offer sheet?

While MacTavish is at it, go for Pietrangelo as well!

Enough of this pussy footing around already!

Quit begging teams to deal with you! Use the system to your advantage, the Oilers owe it to themselves and to the fans to put the best product on the ice.

Arrrrgh, you Pirate! Need any help to hastily board those two ships?

...any way we could capture Dustin Brown as well?

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#35 Al36
July 09 2013, 07:46PM
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You guys got to get off the Penner train,he is not coming here!1.Dustin and Mac-t didn' exactly get along.2.Eakins is a fitness freak,and we all know Penner likes his pancakes.3.size without emotion or effort is useless,give me a pee wee like Andrew Shaw any day of the week over a giant softy who you have to poke with a cattleprod half the time!I know stats guys love him but he don't show up till playoffs and this team needs playoff Penner all season just to have a chance at making them!

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#36 bazmagoo
July 09 2013, 07:51PM
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@Supernova

Would definitely have to consider immediate retaliation for a move like this, so signing Gagner and Paajarvi would be a big priority before pulling a move like this off.

How about Paajarvi straight up for Clifford? Both at pretty similiar points in their development, Paajarvi likely has more upside but Clifford definitely has more grit.

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#37 madjam
July 09 2013, 07:52PM
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Supernova wrote:

If they match the offer sheet they can't trade him for one year, to the date of signing.

Thanks for that clarification .

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#38 bazmagoo
July 09 2013, 07:54PM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

Dustin Brown is UFA next season, he'd be a tremendous fit for our team.

Personally I don't really think the Oilers are going to make any bold moves at all, still content with developing talent from within and steadily improving as the years go by. I'm ok with this strategy, as long as they start bringing in complementary UFA's who actually do something.

Based on the development of our 5 young guns, I'd say it's likely we will be pushing for a playoff spot this season. Talent of this class can take pretty big strides from year to year.

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#39 bazmagoo
July 09 2013, 08:04PM
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Someone mentioned this on a blog recently (can't remember where) so not trying to take credit for this idea - but is there any reason why the Oilers haven't re-signed Smithson? He was only here for 10 games, can't really think of any reason to write him off so quickly.

Of all the centremen left as UFA's, he hits a lot and is good on faceoff's. Could likely be had for his salary from last season (or somewhere in that range) for a one year deal. Ideal 13-14 forward, pushing for 4th line minutes.

Not particularly excited about the signings of Acton & Joensuu, neither has done anything in the NHL and shouldn't be relied on for ice time. Could see Hamilton being a very good signing the way he is trending, but still he hasn't done anything at the NHL level.

Why not resign Smithson?

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#40 striatic
July 09 2013, 08:05PM
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no.

maybe if the fancy stats weren't sharply negative.

but they are.

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#41 bazmagoo
July 09 2013, 08:07PM
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striatic wrote:

no.

maybe if the fancy stats weren't sharply negative.

but they are.

Cool - just wondering if you have a source you look at for the fancy stats - curious to check them out.

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#42 Young Oil
July 09 2013, 08:13PM
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I like this as a plan B, but there are still lots of UFAs out there that could improve our roster, as well as trades. Here's what I'd try to do first:

1. Sign Grabovski to a 4 year $16M contract.

2. Sign Jagr to a 1 year, $4M contract.

3. Sign Nick Palmieri to a reasonable contract (3 year @ $1M per).

4. Trade Hemsky for a 4th line center with size (Smith from OTT, or Boyle/Kreider from NYR).

5. Deal Gagner for a top 4 Dman, Gagner, N. Schultz and a 1st for a top 2.

Hall-RNH-Eberle

Jagr-Grabovski-Yakupov

Paajarvi-Gordon-Palmieri

Joensuu-Smith- Jones

(Smyth-Lander-Brown)

Smid-Top 2 D

Belov-Petry

J. Schultz-Ference

(Potter/Larsen/Klefbom)

Dubnyk

Labarbera

That's a lineup with much more depth and size than last year.

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#43 bazmagoo
July 09 2013, 08:23PM
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@Young Oil

Personally I think Grabovski with Yakupov would be dynamic. Unlikely Jagr signs with the Oil, but if you could turn Gagner into a 2nd line winger with size (Perron, Stewart) the Oilers would be in a great spot.

Can't really see any reason St Louis would want Gagner though, they are pretty set at the center position.

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#44 striatic
July 09 2013, 08:23PM
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bazmagoo wrote:

Cool - just wondering if you have a source you look at for the fancy stats - curious to check them out.

http://www.hockeyabstract.com/playerusagecharts

and

http://www.behindthenet.ca/

we know Clifford was given nearly 60% offensive zone starts against middling competition and was barely Corsi positive, leaving him with an very underwhelming Corsi Relative.

basically he was given a lot of breaks but barely moved the needle offensively.

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#45 striatic
July 09 2013, 08:28PM
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CorsiRel isn't the be all and end all and there are reasons why his isn't that great, but when you combine it with the low point total the stats don't exactly scream "second line LW".

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#46 bazmagoo
July 09 2013, 08:29PM
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Can anybody explain to me why we would be counting on Jesse Joensuu being an NHL forward this season? Hopefully we aren't.

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#47 bazmagoo
July 09 2013, 08:30PM
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@striatic

Fair enough, can you think of any reason the Oilers aren't bringing Smithson back?

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#48 Walter Sobchak
July 09 2013, 08:31PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

Exactly Wes. There are several RFA offer sheet targets that would do a lot to help the Oilers. Time for management to get some balls and make some 'unorthodox' decisions with respect to getting some better players. Right now it is just more of the same.

Sounds like Klefbom is going to be given a roster spot right out of training camp. The alternative would be letting him play in in OKC for 45 games, thus saving the Oilers an additional year of free agency. Do you think management even thinks about these details? Gauging how things are going with Sam Gagner, I'm going to go with 'no'.

Well said!

I'm not sure what the hell they think? Honestly!

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#49 striatic
July 09 2013, 08:32PM
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sorry for over posting but to put this in perspective, last year Magnus Paajarvi had more goals, more assists and better Corsi Rel than Kyle Clifford and yet Clifford is supposed to take a slot in the top 6 instead of Magnus?

i'm not buying it. neither of these guys should be in the top 6 of any team next year.

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#50 striatic
July 09 2013, 08:35PM
Trash it!
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Cheers
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cheers
bazmagoo wrote:

Fair enough, can you think of any reason the Oilers aren't bringing Smithson back?

for the same reason no other team has signed him yet.

he isn't a very good hockey player.

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