Should the Oilers sign Joni Pitkanen?


Here we sit outside the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs as though we’re an underage drinker who has been thrown out of a bar. We can see everyone having a good time inside, yet there’s a big burly chap at the door who insists we aren’t welcome at the party. As we walk sadly down the street with the cheers of other teams’ fans echoing in our ears, we can’t help but look at the decisions facing Kevin Lowe and think “Yeah, we totally know what he should do.”

‘Cause we totally do, you know?

Anyway, one of the biggest questions facing the team now that the youth is starting to get locked up in long-term deals clearly surrounds Joni Pitkanen. Our esteemed colleague Robin Brownlee has called Pitkanen “a future Norris Candidate” but has also lovingly referred to him as having the “pain threshold of a four-year-old.

Now we have to be honest with you, lambs. We didn’t really see all of the hullabuloo about this guy when he was in Philadelphia. He was always mentioned as being “awesome” but the fact that the Oil play the Flyers every other decade, coupled with our unwillingness to watch other teams in the regular season limited our knowledge of Pitkanen to the highlight reels.

Everyone looks good in the highlights. Unless you’re the D-man picking his jock strap out of the corner, or the goalie getting lit up for three in the second period, highlight reels are not the place to judge a player. It’s kind of like meeting a new lady. You can’t judge her when you pick her up for a first date. EVERYONE can pull themselves together for a first date. It’s at 5am after the sixth date when you’ve just robbed a liquor store and you come to her house covered in blood and needing a place to hide that you can judge what kind of stuff your new girlfriend is made of.

It’s exactly the same with J-Pits. He looks good on the highlight reels but how does he looked now that he’s standing at his door in a bathrobe and curlers, debating whether or not to let you hide in his crawl space until the heat is off? Does he still look as good as the first time you picked him up to take him to a Sizzler for the $9.95 buffet? Does J-Pits make sense at $2.5 million if he is only going to play 63 games per year? For that matter, how does it feel to pay Souray $6,250,000 for his 26-game, three-goal season? Nice. Can the Oil really afford to have $10 million worth of defenceman sitting in the press box while Curtis Glencross takes pucks off the eyeball for $522,000 per year? What kind of message does that send to the rest of the lads in the room?

On the other hand, the Oil are in a tough place not wanting to run the risk of letting a “future Norris Candidate” slip through their fingers. One can’t imagine that watching Pitkanen potentially light it up with another team going to sit well with the OilersNation if we’re sitting in ninth place at the end of next season. If he leaves and starts to light it up, the calls for the head of Kevin Lowe will so loud that they reach Daryl Katz sitting in a solid gold tower on Jasper Avenue.

Given the troubling tendency to allow all star defencemen to leave town, it might be worth a one-year deal to see what the guy is really made of. He had an injured groin among other things this year, and that can really stick with a player—especially one whose game depends on fluid skating. We pulled a groin once, it hurt.

We can’t decide. What do you think Nation?

  • I'm a Scientist!

    I think signing Joni to a one-year deal is a great idea. There's no question about this guy's skill, but as you point out plenty of questions surrounding his ability to play injured and his heart. Give him another year of playing with guys like Glencross, Moreau, etc. and re-analyze things in a year from now. I would much rather pass on him then as opposed to seeing him light it up with someone else well into June of next year.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    I agree that a 1-2 yr contract with incentives related to the areas of concern might be preferrable to some sort of knee-jerk response. At the end of the contract they will have a better idea of where they need to go regarding other players. Pitkanen for Cherepanov?

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Cherapanov? The Oil passed him during the draft didnt they? Why would they ever wanna trade a future Norris winner for someone they passed in the draft because of his attitude. We already got one of those guys, his name is Schremp

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Either a one year contract, or a long-term contract. The two year contract takes him exactly to his UFA year where we lose him for nothing.

    If we are to shop him, I see only two places to do so:

    To Atlanta, straight up for the 3rd Overall pick.

    To San Jose if they can't re-up Campbell, as part of a package with Stoll and Torres for Michalek, Grier and one of Rismiller/Clowe.

    I don't see the problem with signing him long-term to a 4 year contract. I've already gone on record in a previous thread here saying that. I really don't have a problem with having 3 key defensemen signed long term, so long as the other 3 are on cheap deals.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Defense wins championships.

    Finnish defensemen are the best! I'm biased, of course.

    Keeping Pitkanen would be fine, if it means trading some of our overpaid role players up front. I like the youthful enthusiasm of Glencross and Brodziak, and want to see them play bigger roles next year.

    We have good deals for Grebs, Smid and Staios. We can afford to keep Joni, and his injuries really held him back.

    Lowe's next move sets the tone, but I'd like to remind Oiler Nation that we have a very good shot at moving up the standings with the way we played to end the season.

    Regardless of what happens with Joni, next year the Oilers will shock the league. Bank on it.

    Cheers, Risto, Rexi and the Great Oil/Finn tradition

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Hemmer- The Oil passed on Cherepanov at the draft but that sure dosn't mean they were correct. Check out the last 10 years of Oiler drafts in the 1st and 2nd rounds. Instead of picking the best player they moved up the D-man playing for Calgary Hitmen higher in the 1st round than any other team. He is already an injury risk and if he is a diamond he would be classed as an industrial cut. I wouldn't go for one- for-one but NYR has a pretty good looking team right now and right now is when a guy like Pitkanen may be a good fit. Norris candidate? That's for guys like Lidstrom et al. Most of the people commenting here are in one hell of a rush to ship Pitkanen out of town under the next available bus. The Oiler management with 1st round picks are like a 5 yr old with a loaded Uzi. I'd rather take a flyer on a talented 18 yr old Russian than a kid who may never play. I've said before we should check Pitkanen out for one more year and see what a healthy team around him and solid coaching can coax out of him.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    To me it all depends on the amount of money he's looking for in order to sign here long term. If he's looking for the big bucks I have no problem giving him another year to prove that he deserves it. He is a very talented guy, it would be foolish of us to move him now.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    I wonder if the Oil are one of the teams bidding for the Swedish player that Nonis was hot after before he got canned? I think his name is Brunnstrom and he's projected to be a top six winger.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    It'll come down to the cold hard cash!!! I haven't been a big fgan of his, but he has showed flashes…..that just make you wonder. What the hell, sign him for a year and make him earn a bigtime contract.