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 Joni Pitkanen? 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.

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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) Sheldon Souray ($5.4 million), Tom Gilbert ($4 million), Steve Staios ($2.7 million), Denis Grebeshkov ($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 Sam Gagner gets bumped to third-line duty, unless he moves to the wing. And what of Andrew Cogliano? 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

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  • OilersNinja

    Oh Robin Brownlee, you got me so excited and thinking so big its insane. Just to let you know how big I am thinking here are my thoughts:

    Lubomir, Torres, Horcoff and Pitkanen for the 1986 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears. Fridge Perry would make an excellent 1st line centre!!!!

    Now that is thinking big!!!

    Now back to the real world, I am super pumped to see what K lowe has in store for us

  • AndrewB

    His numbers were decent, but 5.6 Million?

    I have been reading the HFboards to see what their opinions of him are, and they pretty mixed reviews. The one thing that has me worried is the -18(give or take)+/- rating he received. Granted, he was on the 2nd worst team in the NHL, but still.

    I don't mind the trade, I just wonder if this is too much Money spent on the back end.

  • You really think that it's in the teams interest to play both Cogliano and Gagner at centre next season? I rather expect to see Coglaino at LW, if the roster remains as is. Also, with a trade for a #1C (not, IMO, the biggest need- see gaping hole after Penner on LW), I think you're correct in guessing that Gagner moves to the wing.

  • RobinB

    Thanks for pointing out the error in my math. I'm brutal with numbers. Lucky for me I write so good . . . $1M less cap space than I thought resulted in what we've got now — adios Raffi and Joni. The writing (even if the math was wrong) was on the wall.

  • Cam

    Erik Cole fills that gaping hole at LW and also answers some of the toughness question. I just really think the team needs Glencross with his speed and hitting style.