Why The Oilers Should Not Pursue Jay Bouwmeester

Bouwmeester

This is Jay Bouwmeester, one of thirty number one NHL defensemen. His exact value is a point of debate in Robin’s post below, but it seems fairly safe to say that he’s in the top-half of those thirty players. Some would even argue that he’s a top-five defenseman.

Regardless, I think he’s a luxury the Oilers can’t afford; a target created by a fanbase which (like all fanbases) loves the idea of bringing an elite NHL’er to Edmonton. Personally, I don’t think the Oilers should even bother pursuing him unless it’s clear that playing for the Oilers is a top priority for Bouwmeester. Now, before a lynch mob gathers up their pitchforks and assembles in the comments section, let me explain, because I think there are a number of very good reasons for this mindset.

1. Supply and Demand

How many NHL teams would like to get their hands on Bouwmeester? Let’s assume that he’s the fifteenth-best defenseman in the league, even though he’s almost certainly better than that. This means that at least fifteen teams out there would view him as an upgrade over what they already have. There’s going to be a bidding war for his services; there really aren’t a lot of high-end defensemen out there, and salary cap or no Bouwmeester’s going to be in high demand. In other words, a lot of teams are going to spend their first day of free agency focused on a target they won’t end up acquiring while other players are taken off the market. Plus, whoever does grab him will be spending a pile of money, which brings me to my second point:

2. Cap Space

The Oilers don’t have it. They were close enough to the cap all season long, and they’ve got somewhere in the neighborhood of 7-8 million to play with next year. With that money they need to re-sign Denis Grebeshkov, address their lack of a number one goaltender and bring back a bunch of restricted free agents on new contracts. It’s going to be tight enough as it is, and the long-term picture isn’t any brighter. Even assuming the Oilers were to move one of their higher salaries out of town (Visnovsky or Souray) they’ll be taking on more and at this point every dollar matters. Visnovsky and Souray are a nice bridge to my third point:

3. Need

Don’t get me wrong: Jay Bouwmeester is a fantastic addition to any hockey club. When looking at the Oilers though, the defense isn’t a weak point. The top-four of Lubomir Visnovsky, Sheldon Souray, Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebshkov is one of the best puck-moving units in the league and puck-moving defensemen of that calibre aren’t readily available. The Oilers do, however, have a host of problems; I’d contend that keeping the puck out of the net is a major issue but other wish lists have different priorities.

Obviously there’s a wide range of opinion among Oiler fans about how to fix the team. However, the one point of consensus that I’ve heard again and again is that the top-four is the strength of this team, and I don’t think there’s an argument to be made otherwise. Their numbers:

  • Sheldon Souray: 81GP – 23G – 30A – 53PTS, +1
  • Tom Gilbert: 82GP – 5G – 40A – 45PTS, +6
  • Denis Grebeshkov: 72GP – 7G – 32A – 39PTS, +12
  • Lubomir Visnovsky: 50GP – 8G – 23A – 31PTS, +6

There’s nothing wrong with that.

To Sum Up

There isn’t any question that Jay Bouwmeester could help this hockey team. The fact of the matter is that the Oilers already have a strong top-four, and spending a truck-load of dollars to bring in another high-end defenseman just doesn’t make sense when there are so many other more pressing concerns. Fans have been concocting complicated proposals involving signing Bouwmeester and then dealing a defenseman for a top-end forward; it’s much simpler to just go after the forward initially, isn’t it?

Besides, the Oilers would probably still have a good group of defensemen if they were to trade off one of the top-four and bring in a responsible depth guy to round out the group. Given that there are probably a dozen candidates on the free agent market and more available via trade, that seems to me to be the logical and cap-friendly route for the team to take.

In any case, there hasn’t been any real proof that Bouwmeester has a burning desire to come play for Edmonton any more than he wants to play anywhere else. There’s been a handful of rumours, from some comments on the ESPN Trade Deadline show to column written by Bruce “Malkin to the Kings” Garrioch. Certainly the player himself hasn’t said it, and beyond the fact that he’s from Edmonton there isn’t much linking him to the team. But even if Bouwmeester were willing to entertain offers from the Oilers, it simply doesn’t make sense for the Oilers to make him their number one target in the offseason – make no mistake, that’s what it will take for a team to land him – and miss out on opportunities that make more sense for the team.

  • Hippy

    Jeanshorts,I wish I could but I can't. With the new owner Hosa said 'no' to $9 mil per year and went to Detroit, Jagr said 'no' and went to Siberia. Do I need to tell you about old owners and people that said 'no'? But that is not the point. I was just trying to point your attention to the fact about Edmonton media and them poo-poo every good player, how Oilers for one reason or another don't need them.

  • Hippy

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    "Fans have been concocting complicated proposals involving signing Bouwmeester and then dealing a defenseman for a top-end forward; it’s much simpler to just go after the forward initially, isn’t it?"

    OK, so what happens when all the high-end forwards sign elsewhere on day 1? I'm not saying that Bou definately wants to sign here, but if its an option, I don't see why you wouldn't go that route. He's better than anything the Oil have (both now & definately in the future). And everyone knows that most of the Oilers big moves have come via trade (Visnovsky, Pronger, Peca, etc.), so if they have a legitimate shot at Bouwmeester for the same(ish) $ as Phaneuf, then its a no-brainer IMO. Obviously if he's asking for 7.5 or something, you probably pass. There are all kinds of possible trade scenarios to bring in a top 6 forward that you don't only have to resort to free agency. And another scenario could see the Oil moving a top end D for picks/prospects after signing Bou to replenish their now weak prospect pool.If you can slightly upgrade your D (even if it costs an extra mil), and then add a top 6 forward or legit prospects (I'm talking to you Ryan O'marra), then I see it as a win-win. By the time the young guns are ready to contend, Visnovsky, Souray, Staios, Moreau, Roloson, etc, will all be gone/shells of themselves, so I do't see why you need to keep them around (assuming you can find some younger veterans to replace them-guys that will still be around to enjoy the successes).

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    and a depth defenseman or two (Tjarnqvist/Skrastins/Foster/DeVries/Havelid/Klee/Gill/Scuderi/Weaver/Malik/Melichar/Vaananen/Ohlund).

    Did I just read that right? Did you just call Ohlund a depth defenseman? Is he not 1 of the top 5 (or 3) defenseman available this summer? I'd agree that he's a guy they could look at instead of Bou (cheaper, but older), but that list of names you included him with is rather embarassing.

  • Hippy

    I disagree, If Bouwmeester wants to come to Edmonton, the Oilers should oblige.

    Visnovsky and Gilbert and even Souray are tradeable. Bouwmeester is better defensively than anybody the Oilers have, and he is significantly younger than Visnovsky and Souray.

    Defense is not a weakness. But if Bouwmeester wants to come to Edmonton, one makes room.

  • Hippy

    RossCreek wrote:

    OK, so what happens when all the high-end forwards sign elsewhere on day 1?

    Somehow I think the Oilers have a better shot at aldning one of Gaborik/Havlat/Tanguay/Lehtinen than they do at Bouwmeester. There's two legitimate number one d guys on the market (JBo and Zubov) and there are four legitimate top-six forwards.

    If the #1 need is a top-six LW, that should be target #1. You only guarantee they all sign elsewhere if you're busy pursuing a defenseman while all the forwards are taking calls.

  • Hippy

    RossCreek wrote:

    Did you just call Ohlund a depth defenseman? Is he not 1 of the top 5 (or 3) defenseman available this summer?

    Ohlund is (IMO) a second-pairing guy at this point, and while he's the best on the list I provided he isn't a guy the Oilers acquire to play on the top pairing, so he's depth like the rest of them.

  • Hippy

    By the way, for everyone who figures the Oilers can just dump some combination of Nilsson, Moreau and Staios to make cap room, how many teams do you think will be looking to take on overpaid depth players in July with the cap going down?

    I'm guessing the answer is somewhere between "0" and "0".

  • Hippy

    Willis, why would you trade Souray, not only Edmontons best defenceman but best goal scorer for … another goal scorer? He might score 10 more goals but how many more will they let in without Souray? 15, 20, 25? The trick is to keep Souray and trade Moreau, Staios, Pouliot, Penner and so on and get a good goal scorer. Impossible? Talk to Vancouver about Luongo.

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    how many teams do you think will be looking to take on overpaid depth players in July with the cap going down?
    I’m guessing the answer is somewhere between “0″ and “0″.

    Well they should make Springfield much better.

  • Hippy

    If we can get JayBo at $2.55 more than Gilbert that is, quite simply, a good deal for the Oil. If we then trade Gilbert and either one of Nilsson, Moreau or Staios for a package that includes a cheap but good goalie…… we are then able to resign Grebeshkov and Smid. Brodziak…raise…ok I bite…why?

    Do you think Doug Wilson might want battle tested veterans like Moreau and Staois over perennial under performers in the playoffs like he has?

    If not, gasp, we waive them and, I believe???????, we get out from under 50% of their salary. That frees up a little more money for a top 6 forward

  • Hippy

    @ john thompson:
    Why waive them? If the Oil acquire better options and cant move out their contracts they can bury them in the Minors and free up 100% of their cap hits.

  • Hippy

    Archaeologuy, most of them have one way contracts and will be paid millions for playing in AHL. We have new GM now. Let him show what he can do and trade them away. If he can't than he is no better then his friend K. Lowe.

  • Hippy

    @ glenn:
    Uh, so your plan is to force 29 other GMs to take toxic contracts with little upside even if they dont want them? And why would that be a bad reflection on Tambi? He would only be making the Oil better by removing bad contracts from the equation. And why are you even worrying about how much money they make, the Oil have a Billionaire owner who can afford to pay Steve Staios to play in the AHL.

    Obviously Plan A would be move the contracts and receive assets in return, but in the likely event that no one in the NHL wants to pay Steve Staios 2.7 million dollars next year there is always the option to start him in the minors at the beginning of the season and not have ANY of his salary count against the cap.

    It seems to me that not many people here consider that an option but I dont know why the Oilers would allow a 6th defenseman to prevent them from signing or acquiring a top line players.

  • Hippy

    @ Archaeologuy
    Who said anything bad about Tambi? I said that he would be bad if he can't trade Staios and Moreau because, remember, they are the leaders. The new owner is a billioner because he saves money and not spend them so I worry. You are right about sixth defenceman. It should not be a factor. Thay shoul be able to keep Souray. Remember Pitkanen for Cole trade? They should be able to sigh 1st line LW and keep othe D-men because they have to many contrakts to trade.

  • Hippy

    Kotalik (2.5) – Horton (4) – Hemsky (4.1)
    T. Hunter (2) – Gagner (1.6) – Cogliano (1.2)
    Moreau (2) – Horcoff (5.5) – Pisani (2.5)
    Jacques (0.6) – Brodziak (1) – Stortini (0.7)
    Reddox (0.7) Pouliot (0.8)

    Bouwmeester (6.5) – Visnosvky (5.6)
    Souray (5.4) – Grebeshkov (3)
    Smid (1.5) – Peckham (0.6)
    Strudwick (0.6)

    Roloson/Clemmensen (2)
    JDD (0.6)

    This all comes to around a 55 million cap hit.
    Horton and Hunter are naturally examples but try and fill the top 6 out with those types of players. It isn't impossible to work around an expensive defense, it just means we'll have to cheap out on the goaltending and a little on the scoring.

    We'd have to hold a garage sale though for the remaining players not on the list but we'd have to do that anyway with the huge amount of forwards we have kicking around.

  • Hippy

    glenn wrote:

    Jeanshorts,I wish I could but I can’t. With the new owner Hosa said ‘no’ to $9 mil per year and went to Detroit, Jagr said ‘no’ and went to Siberia. Do I need to tell you about old owners and people that said ‘no’? But that is not the point. I was just trying to point your attention to the fact about Edmonton media and them poo-poo every good player, how Oilers for one reason or another don’t need them.

    Don't forget Naslund/Gomez/Karya the year before. It should be pertty clear Edmonton is near the bottom of places players want to play (and rightfully so)

  • Hippy

    glenn wrote:

    Who said anything bad about Tambi?

    uh you did

    glenn wrote:

    Let him show what he can do and trade them away. If he can’t than he is no better then his friend K. Lowe.

    A GM isnt bad if he cant move bad contracts that he didnt negotiate. That's called having your hands tied. Except, the Oil dont have their hands tied, they have options which include burying guys in the minors.

    As far as Katz not becoming a Billionaire by spending money, that is totally false. Business men spend money to make money all the time. And if paying Staios 2.7 mill to play in the AHL returns in the form of playoff home games then its an investment that made a return. AND in the playoffs he'd be elligible to return to the team (if memory serves me correct about the roster rules).

    I'm just saying its an option that isnt talked about that often here because it doesnt return assets to the team, but it is much more realistic than hoping the Thrashers will take Staios and Penner for Kovalchuk.

  • Hippy

    @ Archaeologuy:

    That is the loophole in the salary cap. Although I don't know how many players will be productive in the playoffs after spending a full year in the AHL.

  • Hippy

    Agreed. As good as Bouwmeester is, this team has more glaring issues to address and they don't have much cap space to do so. They're already handcuffed by bad contracts (see: Penner, Dustin and Horcoff, Shawn) and unless they can unload some of their salary then signing JayBo just isn't feasible.

    Even if they could make some more room under the cap, big contracts, as we've witnessed firsthand, destroy a team's flexibility in fulfilling their needs and putting together a more complete roster.

  • Hippy

    Talking about attracting free agents…. Burying guys in the minors after you have signed them to a contract is a great way to show the league what a classy organization you have.

  • Hippy

    jeanshorts wrote:

    Is it not simpler though to go through all that crap you just explained, or to go through all that PLUS spend all sorts of time and energy making room cap wise to sign Jbo AND a top quality forward?

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    That’s exactly my point. Thank you, Jeanshorts.

    So let me get this straight, you guys would like the Oilers to make player decisions based on which path leads to the least amount of legwork for management? Becasue that's what this sounds like.

    Look not one single person on here has stated that we want to overpay for Bouwmeester. What we have said is that IF we can get him at market value it is a better solution than overpaying a forward directly.

    It is a simple matter of managing assets. If you need a loonie for an arcade game and someone offers you 4 quarters you don't turn it down because it's too much work to go to the counter and exchange it.

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    You only guarantee they all sign elsewhere if you’re busy pursuing a defenseman while all the forwards are taking calls.

    Are you claiming that they now cannot negotiate with multiple players at the same time? He would be a pretty poor GM if he only talked to one player at a time.

    So far the best argument against Bouwmeester is the cost of his contract, but:

    1) We have agreed we don't want to overpay, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be in the conversation.

    2) Why do people repeatedly talk about having to overpay him while ignoring the fact that we are just as likely to overpay a forward? If you want to apply that argument then you have to apply it both ways.

    In short – what gets you the most for your money?

    If a scorer could be had for Souray and we can get Bouwmeester at fair cost then not only do we still get the scorer but our defense just got a hell of a lot younger. Signing a scorer directly cannot make that happen. If Bouwmeester is too much then, oh well, because our defense is pretty good already.

  • Hippy

    Yeah, I'm with you, Willis.

    Looking at Dennis' scoring chance stuff, and the problem with the Oilers isn't the top end of the roster. Horcoff may not bring much sizzle with the steak, but he influenced outchancing in a terrific way considering the quality of opp he faced, how many times he came over the boards with the play headed south, and how many own zone draws he took against good competition, many of them on his weaker side of the ice (right hand side).

    The next coach is going to like him just as much as MacTavish, maybe more, because coaches careers depnd on winning, and they tend to like players that help them do it, regardless of how well those same players help fans win hockey pools, or what the video game programmers think of those players.

    The guys playing softer opposition, the kids, they got outchanced badly though, and this starting in the right end more, rarely coming over the boards with the momentum pendulum hung up on the wrong end of the clock, and often coming out against tired legs (the kid line did play quite a bit against good comp on the early road stretch, but a bunch of that was a gainst tired legs … so they played more against Getzlaf's line in ANA, but it's less impressive when you consider that Getzlaf's line had averaged 25 seconds of ice before the kids came over the boards, and Carlyle probably only let them play long shifts because he knew how weak the kids were, and the alternative (Horcoff/Hemsky/other) was unpleasant to him.

    The bottom of the roster got just destroyed in terms of chances and possession 46% by scoring chances, 45% by possession using shots directed at net. Which meshes with what we saw.

    This team needs real NHL forwards IMO, though it's a balance with developing the young guys I know. Still, someone besides Horcoff's line has to outchance, and to finish most of their shifts in the kind of way that the next guys aren't starting with a problem.

    Trent Hunter (me, I absolutely love this player's game), Fedotenko, Colby Armstrong, Frolov, hell even uys like Park, Veillieux, Jokinen, Miettinen, Moen, Grier, etc … real NHL players, guys who don't cheat for their offense, finish their shifts well, play in traffic and are hard on the puck … this team needs that desperately.

    Calgary's bottom D pair went from sinkhole to plus-minus and corsi+/- (and surely scoring chance +/-) gods when guys like Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross were added to the roster. The same will happen to the Oilers. Either that or they go with another year of player development, but they've surely got to start picking their horses soon, it's too many kids, and it's not Kane/Toews or Malkin/Crosby we're talking about.

    The decision on whether to continure developing Cogliano as a center is step one, and I would think that Tambellini has already decided on that. After that it's pretty straightforward IMO.

    Get some bonafide NHL forwards.

  • Hippy

    @ kingsblade:
    What teams have besides Jersey really? And what free agents did they attract? Rolston? yay. That's more because of a winning track record. People go where they are going to win and where they are going to be treated good. If the Oilers had a reputation for embarrassing respected players in the later stages of their contracts by sending them down….

    It's not a realistic option. Although it would work.

  • Hippy

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    By the way, for everyone who figures the Oilers can just dump some combination of Nilsson, Moreau and Staios to make cap room, how many teams do you think will be looking to take on overpaid depth players in July with the cap going down?
    I’m guessing the answer is somewhere between “0″ and “0″.

    Jonathan is absolutely accurate here; anyone who observes other leagues with salary caps and guaranteed contracts (like the NBA) can see that often the only way out of a bad contract, is to trade it for another bad contract and hope the new bad contract can produce more than the old. It's called shuffling the deck, and shows why cap space, outside of player development, is the most valuable commodity in a cap world.

  • Hippy

    I love how people automatically assume no GM would touch a Staois or a penner contract.
    I bet there are several GM's who would love either player. How many bad contracts did we dump before only to watch the player blossom under different conditions? Each GM knows the strengths and weaknesses of everyone under them and based on that they know generally how someone will fit into the org. The Sharks had Roenick playing well for gosh sakes and most people wrote him off!
    Even in 06 lowe picked up everyone elses garbage and look how they meshed

  • Hippy

    @ Travis Dakin:

    Off the top of my head….Pittsburgh assigned Satan at the trade deadline last season, and he had been brought in to play on Crosby's line. Is that "disrespectful" enough for you?

  • Hippy

    Jonny Willis… If July 1st rolls around and you're Tambellini, sitting in your comfy office chair smoking a cuban cigar, when suddenly the phone rings and its Bouwmeester's agent telling you he'd like to come home, whats your move? IMO You HAVE to make room for Bouwmeester. He is an all-around type D-man, something we either don't have or don't have at the same level of quality. He is an upgrade, and what we have in our deck right now is a strong commodity. We have to move one of our lesser pieces for something of value and take Bouwmeester in. IF he is interested in being here there is no other reasonable course of action. You move one of our highly paid guys for a Giroux/Neal/Ebbett type (whatever you can muscle in terms of rookie contract players for whatever D-man is considered most desirable), and sign up Bouwmeester.

  • Hippy

    @ JB:

    The NBA is really not a good comparison because it is not a hard cap. The rules are very very different. Besides, salary dumps DO happen there, eg. Camby, or Jason Richardson. Not to mention the constant salary moves based on duration to clear up space.

    It all comes down to whether or not there are teams with cap room who want the type of player being offered.

    Besides the NBA what league did you have in mind? I can't think of any that make for a good comparable with the NHL.

  • Hippy

    @ alphah.:

    I'm thinking Tambo will have his ear to the ground, and if he hears an inkling that JBo would like to come home, you jump the gun and trade for his rights in June and start schmoozing him from there. I wouldn't do it for a first, not sure I'd do it for a 2nd either, but I'd give them one of our 3rds or a roster player we deem expendable.