(With the pressure of the stretch drive past him, Lowe turns his attention to the off-season.) If you haven’t lapsed into a coma reading playoff predictions and watching that wretched Maggie the Monkey make fools of hockey insiders on TSN, let’s get down to prognostication that matters in this non-playoff corner of the NHL. Specifically, what we can expect with the Edmonton Oilers between now and when "wait until next year" begins with the opening of training camp in September. After season-ending sessions with coach Craig MacTavish and GM Kevin Lowe, and bolstered by a big dish of inside poop from sources reliable and dubious, here’s what I know, what I think and a combination of both. So, feel free to print these off and stick them to the fridge door beside the grocery list for future reference. Or not.
Take it to the bank
- Joni Pitkanen is the Oiler most likely to be traded. In fact, I’d be stunned if Pitkanen is around when training camp begins. First, if agent Larry Kelly is looking for a deal that pays $4.5 million a season, as I’m led to believe, he’s overvaluing his client by about $1 million. Pitkanen, despite having the pain threshold of a four-year-old, has cachet around the NHL and could be the centrepiece of a deal that would land the Oilers either a top-six forward or a top-10 pick in the Entry Draft.
- Lowe isn’t going to trade Jarret Stoll after a miserable season because he simply won’t get anything resembling value in return. Don’t be the least bit surprised, though, if the Oilers take Stoll to arbitration.
- While Lowe insisted today he isn’t concerned about offer sheets on his restricted free agents this summer after getting Brian Burke’s undies in a bunch by poaching Dustin Penner, he’ll move quickly on signings. Don’t be surprised if Lowe gets Tom Gilbert, Denis Grebeshkov and Robert Nilsson signed to new contracts before July 1.
- Marty Reasoner is allowed to walk as an unrestricted free agent, leaving Shawn Horcoff, Andrew Cogliano, Stoll and Kyle Brodziak in the middle for 2008–09. It’s Brodziak—who’ll earn just $500,000 next season—who makes Reasoner expendable.
- Marc Pouliot gets a new two-year deal, and it’s a one-way contract.
- Rob Schremp gets traded at the Entry Draft.
- Lowe and Burke will not go for beers or take a long, quiet walk together at the Entry Draft.
It could happen
- Even though Kelly Buchberger has a year remaining on his contract as the head coach in Springfield of the AHL, he gets promoted to MacTavish’s staff as an assistant.
- After leaving the coaching staff to take a place in the TV booth as Jim Hughson’s sidekick this season, Craig Simpson returns to the Oilers in a front office position. Think assistant GM.
- Jay Bouwmeester of Florida and Shea Weber of Nashville are prime candidates for offer sheets.
"I’ve heard through the grapevine two things. One, being they’re going to give us everything we need to be successful. And that life is short, so let’s get after it." —Lowe, when asked about the transition in ownership from the EIG to Rexall billionaire Daryl Katz next season.
One last thing
Anaheim over Montreal in the Stanley Cup. —Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5pm on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.