And the next move is . . .
I’m not sure, but with the Edmonton Oilers surpassing $49 million in terms of the salary cap by acquiring defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky from the Los Angeles Kings for Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene Sunday, bet the farm GM Kevin Lowe isn’t done dealing.
Goodbye ? Adios, Raffi Torres? Thanks for coming, Shawn Horcoff? All of the aforementioned? Something’s gotta give unless Lowe’s talk about acquiring a top-three forward in recent weeks was just gum-flapping — I’ll tell you right now he wasn’t blowing smoke.
By picking up Visnovsky, who represents $7 million in salary and a $5.6 million cap hit for 2008-09, the Oilers today are at $49.12 on the cap, leaving them $8.58 million to the maximum of $56.7 million.That’s not a lot of margin when you consider Pitkanen will eat up as much as $5 million of what’s left, unless the Oilers simply low-ball him on a one-year deal — which is as good as saying they’ll trade him.
Even if Lowe lets Curtis Glencross and his agent chase pie-in-the-sky somewhere else — and he will at an inflated asking price of $1.5 million — he has to fit in Zack Stortini, Marty Reasoner and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers after Pitkanen gets his stack.It can be done with the remaining $8.58 million, but there’s too much salary on the back end with the personnel in place now and it doesn’t leave Lowe enough wiggle room.
In terms of cap hit, Lowe has just over $20 million invested in six defencemen — Visnovsky ($5.6 million) ($5.4 million), Tom Gilbert ($4 million), Steve Staios ($2.7 million), ($1.5 million and Ladislav Smid ($886,000). All of the forwards he has under contract add up to just under $24 million.
Pitkanen remains Lowe’s best bargaining chip in any deal that will involve getting an elite forward, but good luck finding a proven top-three forward straight up for Pitkanen after the hummer of a season he just had. It’ll take more than him. Torres is the likeliest forward to be added to a package. His name came up in talks with Toronto about Alex Steen just as Stoll’s did in Lowe’s pursuit of Mike Cammalleri at the Entry Draft, and it’ll come up again.
And what about Horcoff, who is a relative bargain at $3.6 million this season but is an unrestricted free agent next summer? If Lowe brings in a first line centre in a deal for, say, Pitkanen and Torres, he’s got Player A as his top pivot, Horcoff as his second centre and gets bumped to third-line duty, unless he moves to the wing. And what of ? A fourth-liner? I think not.Stay tuned. And think big.— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260