The Edmonton Oilers are making a statement as they usher in the era of billionaire owner Daryl Katz today and, given their ongoing pursuit of high-priced free agent Marian Hossa in the wake of deals made by GM Kevin Lowe in the last 72 hours, it’s as bold as they come.
You can word it however you’d like, but fundamentally, it comes down to this: “We can and we will spend whatever it takes to win. We’re not small market any more. We’re thinking big. Nothing is beyond our reach.”
After so many years of being have-nots prior to the new CBA, of not being able to bid for the best players and the biggest names, the events of the past three days — the acquisitions of Erik Cole, Gilbert Brule and Lubomir Visnovsky — have been exhilarating, to say the least.
And now, after huddling with agent Rich Winter Tuesday evening, Lowe’s made a pitch he hopes will land him the biggest name in the free agent pool — Hossa. Just the possibility has rabid Oilers fans pumped, convinced “We’re back, baby.”
That’s fine. That’s good.
The problem, assuming speculation Lowe is willing to overpay to the extent of something approaching $10 million a season for seven, eight or nine years for the talented 29-year-old is accurate, is that when you strip away the bravado, it doesn’t make a lick of sense from a hockey point of view.
Seven years and $70 million? Eight years and $80 million? Nine years and $90 million? A contract that will take Hossa to age 36, 37 or possibly 38?
If the Oilers are going to offer Hossa a contract that will take him between four and six years past what common sense and history suggest will be his most productive years, why not just offer $90 million over 30 years — at least it would soften the cap hit.
Hossa is a helluva hockey player, of that there is little doubt. He’s the kind of special talent who could certainly help the Oilers make a splash over the next three or four seasons. And he’d certainly help sell tickets going into a brand new building.
But paying that kind of money for seven, eight or nine years to get three or four productive seasons just because they can? To make a statement? To welcome the new boss?
It’s crazy talk.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.