Are the Edmonton Oilers overvaluing their players?

Jonathan Willis
January 15 2014 12:05PM

Last night on Sportsnet, television analyst Mark Spector made a couple of claims. The first wasn’t surprising; according to him “people around the hockey world” think Edmonton overvalues its players. Further, he said that the Oilers should not expect to get more than a third round pick for pending free agent Ales Hemsky.

Here’s the full quote:

When you talk to people around the hockey world, what you find out is the Edmonton Oilers are overvaluing their players. That’s why Ales Hemsky has been on the trade block for I think the last three trade deadlines. He’ll be there again as a UFA this year; word on the street is the Oilers shouldn’t expect more than a third-round pick for Ales Hemsky. On the Sam Gagner front, there’s another guy that scouts say ‘what is he?’ He doesn’t win faceoffs very well, he’s a small centre, I’m not sure if he’s a third-line centre, maybe a second-line centre. $4.8 million the next two years for Sam Gagner; another tough trade for Craig MacTavish.

Overvaluing Players

“Overvaluing players” is something we hear a lot about these days. There are very few mid-season trades in the NHL for lots of reasons, but the biggest one is this: lots and lots of teams are in the playoff races, so the teams selling players off have a wide market and very little competition. Naturally, the 25-or-so teams that want to buy players complain that the market to add talent is just too expensive; they change their minds around the deadline as they run out of time to add personnel for their goal of ‘getting into the playoffs’ or ‘winning a round’ or ‘winning the Cup’.

Look at the Eastern Conference this year. The 15th-place New York Islanders and eight points out and sick of rebuilding, while Dale Tallon is managing for his job under a new owner in Florida. The 13 teams above them are all in the thick of the playoff hunt. The point is: nobody is selling. So the guys who sell can charge almost whatever they want; it’s how Buffalo managed to land a first-round draft pick for Paul Gaustad in a season where he had 17 points.

As for the specific idea that Edmonton overvalues its players, that doesn’t harmonize with reality. Since October 1, there have been 14 trades in the NHL. The Oilers have been involved in four of them, selling off Mike Brown and Ladislav Smid and Jason LaBarbera and Linus Omark. No team has had more success in moving players in a stalled market.

So “people around the hockey world” can whine and complain because they don’t want to pay deadline prices to add players. They always complain about that. Then they add the players anyway. So there’s almost certainly no reason for Oilers fans to be anything but happy when they hear rivals moaning about what a miser Craig MacTavish is.

Ales Hemsky

Does Spector’s claim about Hemsky’s value harmonize with trade deadlines past? Here’s a list of all forwards with expiring contracts moved solely for draft picks over the last three deadlines:

There are two players on this list who might be seen as relatively equivalent to Hemsky at the time of their trades. A 38-year-old Alexei Kovalev went to Pittsburgh for basically nothing. Andrei Kostitsyn cost Nashville a second round pick and a fifth round pick.

Hemsky’s a better player than either of those guys were at the time of the trade. He’s embraced a checking line role when it became clear that was where the coach wanted him, and he’s had some success there. He’s played through pain and injury, both this year and last year. Memorably last season, he played through a broken foot, and because the team didn’t want him to divulge that he kept his mouth shut about the specifics even as local columnists (hello again, Mark Spector) claimed he was “the epitome of poor leadership and professional indifference” and “an awful example for an impressionable core.”

Doubtless, there are teams out there that would be happy to take Hemsky off the Oilers’ hands for a third-round pick. But if MacTavish can’t get at least Kostitsyn value for Hemsky he isn’t doing his job.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
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.
Avatar
#101 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
January 15 2014, 01:16PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
24
cheers
Truth wrote:

Still do, but they consist of at least one of the two first overalls out of 2010 or 2011.

Dubnyk was playing like junk, no doubt, but to trade him for a 4th line player and deducting $1.85M off your cap allowance is straight stupid.

No Dubnyk + no Hendricks > Hendricks @ $1.85M / 3 more years + no Dubnyk Easy decision.

Dubnyk and a 3rd for Hendricks and Scrivens? Yes please. Every time.

Avatar
#102 Lofty
January 15 2014, 01:16PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers

@Rotten Ron

Yeah but now he has to play in behind the oilers outstanding D. Watch his play plummet. Still worth a try though... cant be much worse.

Avatar
#103 geoilersgist
January 15 2014, 01:16PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers

I am ok with getting a 4th liner who is actually a NHL 4th liner.

Avatar
#104 Tikkanese
January 15 2014, 01:16PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

Oil got Scrivens for a 3rd. Cancel that Bachman callup.

Avatar
#105 Bryzarro World
January 15 2014, 01:18PM
Trash it!
13
trashes
Cheers
11
cheers
Ghosts of Northlands wrote:

...AND the Oilers retain half of Duby's salary...

Have to laugh at that. What in the F@$K is that??

Take and older player with a high, multi year deal for what he is AND keep some of Dub's salary?! Total loser trade. Fire all of them now before they do more damage...

Avatar
#106 Tikkanese
January 15 2014, 01:20PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
36
cheers

MacT has made 6 of the 16 trades in the NHL this year. You cannot say he isn't trying.

Avatar
#107 pkam
January 15 2014, 01:22PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers
Ghosts of Northlands wrote:

Chicago doesn't need a great goalie to win games. Crawford was about in line with Dubnyk on the stat line on a puck possession team. I live one and a half hours outside of Chicago and Crawford is lower than average IMO.

Chicago has gone with the Detroit model (Pay skaters, not goalies) and it's worked well because they always play with the puck and their D are such good skaters that they are always in position. They are in the position to either move Crawford and his ugly contract, or get more need with moving Raanta. If their number one gets hurt, LaBarbara will do just fine.

...We also have a Bryz that we could throw into a deal if they need some insurance. Hope it doesn't happen...

Spruce Grove kid, welcome home.

Avatar
#108 bazmagoo
January 15 2014, 01:23PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

@pkam

Also an Eakins graduate from the Marlies to the NHL, that can't be a bad thing considering it looks like we are keeping Dallas around :(

Avatar
#109 bazmagoo
January 15 2014, 01:28PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
18
cheers

Dubnyk had his chance to be a #1 goalie, I'd say it's extremely unlikely he ever gets put in that position again. I'd wager he signs a 1 - 1.5 million deal as a backup tender somewhere (likely not Nashville) in the off season, for 1 - 2 seasons max. I'd bet he never becomes a starter anywhere.

Avatar
#110 cain
January 15 2014, 01:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
20
cheers
Bryzarro World wrote:

Have to laugh at that. What in the F@$K is that??

Take and older player with a high, multi year deal for what he is AND keep some of Dub's salary?! Total loser trade. Fire all of them now before they do more damage...

Sounds like LA has to keep some of Scrivens salary as well though....not bad MacT...certainly will take Scrivens over Dammit...and Hendricks gives you some grit on the fourth line...better than Acton,no?

Avatar
#111 CaptainLander
January 15 2014, 01:28PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

@Rotten Ron

This is not LA, but hey can't be worse then Duby.

Avatar
#112 pkam
January 15 2014, 01:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

I was wondering what Dubnyk was doing in that Chicago game. He took 2 undisciplined penalties which is uncharacteristic of him. I guess he probably knew the Oilers were shopping him.

Avatar
#113 pkam
January 15 2014, 01:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers
CaptainLander wrote:

This is not LA, but hey can't be worse then Duby.

He wasn't too good in Toronto. His number there was similar to Dubby number the last few years. At least we will find out if the problem is the goalie or the defense.

Avatar
#114 Serious Gord
January 15 2014, 01:32PM
Trash it!
17
trashes
Cheers
15
cheers

Spector is 100% correct. The oilers chronically overvalue their inventory.

And hemsky is so overpaid (part of the overvalue syndrome) he has negative value in a trade and a third rounder would be a more the fair return that only a team under extreme short-term duress would offer.

The Dubnyk deal is good from the standpoint that the two teams address a need. That said it is yet another case of the oil overvaluing a player.

Scrivens is NOT a number one goalie on any GOOD team. So I hope that MacT doesn't do the same thing he did last year with dubnyk and try to go into next year with Scrivens as his number one (and Bachman as his backup?). If he does we are looking at potentially another disaster season.

And where does Hendricks play? 4C? On a team as bad as this he would not even be on an nhl roster. So dubnyk gets traded for a player who likely will not be part of the future - likely not even next year.

Avatar
#115 Johnnydapunk
January 15 2014, 01:34PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

And now Scrivens to the Oil, looks like the wheels are slowly in motion. Still hoping for more to come as the Oilers Defence is still a gong show.

Avatar
#116 pkam
January 15 2014, 01:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers
cain wrote:

Sounds like LA has to keep some of Scrivens salary as well though....not bad MacT...certainly will take Scrivens over Dammit...and Hendricks gives you some grit on the fourth line...better than Acton,no?

I have no doubt Hendricks will be better than Acton, the string is 1.85M for another 3 more years. Probably a little too high for a 4th C, especially he only has 4 pts in 44 games this year.

Avatar
#117 Zarny
January 15 2014, 01:37PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
15
cheers

Every team "over-values" their own players and every team "under-values" every other teams' players.

No one overvalues or undervalues players as much as fans do though. Fans will call Gagner worthless based on a tough half-season or will cry that Dubnyk was worth more because of what he did last year or the year before. Reality is always somewhere in the middle.

Curious what some think they could get for a G with a 3.36 GAA and 0.894 SV% lol.

Avatar
#118 John
January 15 2014, 01:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers

Dubnyk is unrestricted after season so MacT traded to Preds for 4th liner guy. That's not bad, hopefully Scrivens can play well here (he played ok with bad Leafs defense also).

Avatar
#119 cain
January 15 2014, 01:47PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

Serious Gord wrote:

Scrivens is NOT a number one goalie on any GOOD team...

You may well be correct in this assessment,but if he's better(it would be hard to be worse) than Dubnyk, and doesn't let in the prerequisite minimum of one soft one per game,are we still not further ahead?

Avatar
#120 Zarny
January 15 2014, 01:49PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
18
cheers

In general, I like what MacT has done.

The well was poisoned with Dubnyk. He's been groomed as the #1 G for years and failed. You can't keep him around as a backup or tandem because that baggage of failure would always haunt him in Edm.

And since Bryz hasn't played very well either MacT needed to make a move. Dubnyk for Hendricks is simply all that was available right now and you have to make that move before you can bring in Scrivens.

At least you can't say MacT dithers like Tambo.

Avatar
#121 pkam
January 15 2014, 01:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers
cain wrote:

Serious Gord wrote:

Scrivens is NOT a number one goalie on any GOOD team...

You may well be correct in this assessment,but if he's better(it would be hard to be worse) than Dubnyk, and doesn't let in the prerequisite minimum of one soft one per game,are we still not further ahead?

It is a very different game playing in LA, compare to playing here or in Toronto. You are not just following the puck, here you have to constantly monitoring how many opponents are left free in dangerous shooting area.

The 3rd goal by the Pens was a good example. Dubnyk saw Kunitz was left open so when Letang got the puck, he was anticipating a pass to his left and a one timer coming from Kunitz, so he was moving to his left and Letang caught him cheating and shot to his right.

Playing for LA, there is hardly any opponent left open in dangerous shooting area.

Avatar
#122 Blucifer Copperballs
January 15 2014, 02:10PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I didn't read all the comments, so not sure if anyone covered it already, but....

Good for MACT. Maybe we can call it karma for the freshman hazing he got at the draft, and the BS he was looking at for being a first year GM.

Avatar
#123 Truth
January 15 2014, 02:25PM
Trash it!
8
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

@Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

Or how about a 3rd for scrivens + having the ability to throw an additional $1.85M / year at any one of the following pending UFA's in the offseason instead of having a slower and less scoring Ben Eager:

Patrick Marleau, Paul Stastny, Ryan Miller, Andrei Markov, Jonas Hiller, Ryan Callahan, Derek Roy, Kyle Quincey, Brooks Orpik, Jaroslav Halak, Matt Stajan, Matt Moulson, Dan Girardi, Dave Bolland, Mikhail Grabovksi, Radim Vrbata, Matt Niskanen

etc, etc.

Of course, a bunch of those will be signed by their respective teams prior to becoming UFA. But any one of those on your team overpaid by $1.85M per year is better than Hendricks competing with Will Acton for ice time. No?

Avatar
#124 oilerman53
January 15 2014, 02:26PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

Mark Spector is like any other TO sports media homer, on one hand he'll go out and day Hemsky and Gagner arent worth anything more then a high draft pick and the expected return for a guy like Kadri will net the Leafs a Lindros type package. I dont take anything into effect and seriously about what anyone outside of Dreger and McKenzie have to say regarding rumors. Hemsky is a proven playoff performer and will be a welcome rental for a team like Boston.

Avatar
#125 Yardbird
January 15 2014, 02:36PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers

I am pleased to see MacT doing something.......a breathe of fresh air after Tambo/ Klowe and their frustrating non actions. Even the pseudo GMs on this board should be happy with this latest move.

Avatar
#126 Serious Gord
January 15 2014, 02:37PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers
oilerman53 wrote:

Mark Spector is like any other TO sports media homer, on one hand he'll go out and day Hemsky and Gagner arent worth anything more then a high draft pick and the expected return for a guy like Kadri will net the Leafs a Lindros type package. I dont take anything into effect and seriously about what anyone outside of Dreger and McKenzie have to say regarding rumors. Hemsky is a proven playoff performer and will be a welcome rental for a team like Boston.

Spector is a native edmontonian who only recently moved to TO due to a promotion. His tacit role is to be sportsnets man on western canada.

Avatar
#127 Rama Lama
January 15 2014, 02:43PM
Trash it!
7
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

What would be the opposite of bold?

Yea I think that Mac T is struggling trying to appease the crowd.......it can't be easy but these trades remind me of someone shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Hope I'm wrong.

Avatar
#128 **
January 15 2014, 03:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

I think Spector was talking about Edmonton's skill players, none of the players moved so far exactly cup winning material.

Avatar
#129 Bryzarro World
January 15 2014, 03:12PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
cain wrote:

Sounds like LA has to keep some of Scrivens salary as well though....not bad MacT...certainly will take Scrivens over Dammit...and Hendricks gives you some grit on the fourth line...better than Acton,no?

I like the trade you can't add in the LA trade. It is a separate transaction.

Can trash all you want but Nash needed a keeper and we didn't need to keep some of his salary. Poor negotiating skills which is partly what sank this team in the first place.

Avatar
#130 wintoon
January 15 2014, 03:41PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

When considering the comments made regarding the Oilers over valuing their players, one must first consider the source. Spector has no clue and is classically anti Oiler. While he may, on occasion, attempt to mask his personal bias, it is clearly evident for all to see.

Avatar
#131 Time Travelling Sean
January 15 2014, 04:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

What's so wrong with Hendricks? Gordon had no offense either and we're all happy to have him.

That Garbutt idiot from Dallas scores at the same clip as Hendricks. Might be nice to have a player like that.

Avatar
#132 Spydyr
January 15 2014, 04:41PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
12
cheers

"Are the Edmonton Oilers overvaluing their players?"

Of course they are. They think Gagner is a good player.....bhahahahahahahahahaha

Avatar
#133 Spydyr
January 15 2014, 04:47PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Time Travelling Sean wrote:

What's so wrong with Hendricks? Gordon had no offense either and we're all happy to have him.

That Garbutt idiot from Dallas scores at the same clip as Hendricks. Might be nice to have a player like that.

Mac-T's words this summer said he was tired of the fourth line not bring any offence and the team can only hope they don't give up to many goals.

His action show different.

Avatar
#134 Spydyr
January 15 2014, 04:55PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Time Travelling Sean wrote:

What's so wrong with Hendricks? Gordon had no offense either and we're all happy to have him.

That Garbutt idiot from Dallas scores at the same clip as Hendricks. Might be nice to have a player like that.

Double post

Avatar
#135 Dog Train
January 15 2014, 04:59PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

How plugged in is Spector? He seems really hit and miss when it comes to reporting what he's hearing.

As far as overvaluing players, we clearly overvalued Gagner when we gave him that 4.8 million per year contract. He doesn't bring much to the table besides decent secondary scoring and even then, he's inconsistent.

Avatar
#136 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 15 2014, 05:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
9
cheers

Shuffling deck chairs on he Titanic.......but change is good.

Before today's moves MacT needed to make 10 changes minimum.......after today's moves MacT needs to make 10 changes minimum.

Avatar
#137 Cynic
January 15 2014, 09:06PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
-30- wrote:

Great job of investigative reporting last year by Spector eh?

Oh yeah, he's a "columnist" not a reporter. Columnists write "opinions" so being factual is not one hundred percent necessary.

-30-

Mark, you did a better job when you were covering high school sports back at the journal. LOL

And I see a former print hack pretentiously signing in with "-30-" as if he's Teh Editor, whining about the role of a long-time sports columnist in Edmonton. Who still happens to have a gig. And then a couple dozen deluded Oiler fans/blogos agreeing with you. As usual, Spector has it right. And the Oiler Nation has it wrong. No surprises here. As usual. Enjoy the lottery pick.

Comments are closed for this article.