A look ahead to next season…

Looking ahead to next season and how the salary cap, more than performance, will affect some of Steve Tambellini’s decisions.

JW doesn’t think a Roloson/Deslauriers combo is very reassuring to start next year.

Why not? Most fans want so many other young players to get a shot; why not Deslauriers? His numbers, in limited time this season, are just as strong as Roloson’s. Roli’s proven that if he goes long stretches without playing he can come in and be effective, and he is competitive enough to still want to push to be #1 next season. Add in the fact he will sign a one-year deal, for no more than $1.5 to $1.9 million and it makes perfect sense.

There is nothing to say that Deslauriers won’t continue to progress. His mental toughness is the area he has worked on the most, and his size, agility and quickness make him a pretty good prospect to continue that curve. Having an experienced goalie to push him and possibly back him up is a good scenario for the OIlers.

Plus look at the salary cap. Unless the Oilers fail to sign Cole — which would hurt them since they have no one in the organization that plays his style of game and can score — I don’t see how they would have the money to sign a top-end free agent goalie.

Horcoff adds $1.9 million to the cap for next year, and Smid and Brodziak will need a bit of a raise. Roloson re-signing for let’s say $1.7 million makes up the difference of Horcoff’s increase, and then they will look to keep Cole for the same $4 million.

He has done nothing to show he deserves more, since he got $4 million a season scoring 30 goals… Even if he has a red-hot second half I don’t see him getting to 30, so I’d be surprised if he got more even on the open market.

Contrary to some reports, his family does live here, and he made a back-yard rink for his little boy, and his kids and family like it here. I’m not saying it is 100 per cent that he will re-sign, but if the team continues to improve I could see him staying here. The fact that Hemsky is on the verge of becoming a superstar should have a positive influence on whether Cole decides to stay here.

Signing Grebeshkov will be more difficult. Don’t undervalue is ability to the team. I like Smid a lot, but he is better suited to replace Staios than Grebeshkov. The Oilers will probably bite the bullet and keep Wanye’s favourite player rather than deal him at the deadline and hope they can re-sign him in the summer. He’s an RFA, so unless someone makes a stupid offer they do have some leverage to keep him. Arbitration is probably where he will go.

Keeping him — and I’m guessing $3 million a year is what he would be looking for — means they have to rid themselves of some dollars elsewhere.

Staios (at $2.7 mill), and Pisani (at $2.5 mill) are options, and their contracts expire at the end of next season, right before the alleged drop in salary cap for the 2010–11 season, so that might make it easier to deal one of them.

Another option would be Nilsson, due to his $2 million cap hit. If the Oilers want to keep Grebeshkov, they have to free up at least $1.5 million to cover off the extra money he will get next season.

The Oilers don’t have much flexibility under the cap heading into next year. They already have $44.2 million committed to 17 players:

  • Visnovksy $5.6 million
  • Horcoff $5.5 million
  • Souray $5.4 million
  • Penner $4.25 million
  • Hemsky $4.1 million
  • Gilbert $4.0 million
  • Staios $2.7 million
  • Pisani $2.5 million
  • Nilsson $2.0 million
  • Moreau $2.0 million
  • Gagner $1.625 million
  • Cogliano $1.33 million
  • Pouliot $825K
  • Stortini $700K
  • Deslauriers $625K
  • MacIntyre $537K
  • Jacques $525K

They have to resign, Cole ($4.0), Grebeshkov ($3.0), Brodziak ($1.3), Smid ($1.3),

Brule ($1.0, he was making $833K this year) and then a goalie Roloson ($1.5) and they would still need a seventth D-man. Strudwick for another $625K?

That would add $12.7 million in salary and put them at a $56.9million cap hit, which is too close to the cap ceiling and would handcuff Tambellini from making any moves throughout the season.

If the Oilers do make a push for a UFA goalie — Backstrom, Thomas or another — then they are looking at a contract around $3.5-4.5 million. If they go that route, then either Cole or Grebeshkov are gone for sure, and possibly both.

The best scenario for the Oilers is that Deslauriers gets in at least 10-14 games down the stretch and shows he is consistent enough to up that to at least 40-45 games next season. If he does, that allows them much more flexibility to sign Cole, Grebeshkov or at least a UFA player that can replace them, because they have no one in the system that is capable right now of replacing either one.

  • Dropping Deuces

    Would it be possible to find someone who will take horcoff's contract off our hands. I like Horcoff and everything but 5.5 cap hit over 6 years is whacked. Eventually Ganer and Cogs need to be the 1st and 2nd line centres and it shouldn't take 6 years but who in their right mind would pick that contact up.

  • I understand that it is logicaL to keep some cap room for possible trades, but how much do you really need. I used to think going in to the season with a bunch of free change is a good idea, because maybe someone like Thorton might become avialable. But since that has only happened once, and all the big money players are traded in the off season, is more the $1.5 million need. At the trade deadline, $1.5million could buy up to $3.8 million in salary, and only a few players making that become avialable. Why not spend closer to the cap?

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Deslauriers has to get a decent look down the stretch doesn't he? Roli is 39, he's only played more than 60 games once in his career and his numbers weren't good that season. If we're planning on making a playoff run with Roli in net I wouldn't want him playing much more than 50 this season. 21 more games would put Roli at 50 for the season which leaves 15 for JDD. That should be enough to form a decent idea about what he can do in the NHL.

  • APE

    If anything Roloson should be the back-up next year. I think that they need to give JDD a real look. Now's the time while we have a 73 year old back up. If it doesn't work then you ride Roli out in a blaze of glory because surely his time in the NHL is numbered given his age.

  • RobinB

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    Deslauriers is ready.
    I would have said he's ready had he played 20 games as Garon's back-up this season or if he ends up with 20 games behind Roloson.

    At some point, you have to find out about him as a starter and stop protecting him by hedging your bets and hiding him as a back-up. It's not like he's 21 and a second-year pro. If he can't hack it as a starter as a 25-year-old next season, then he can't hack it.

    Time to find out.

  • Jonathan Willis

    @ RobinB:

    Don't get me wrong – I like Deslauriers, and I'd be fine with him as a backup to a decent starter next season.

    He's struggled through some really lousy developmental stuff (stashed in the ECHL because there was no AHL team, loaned to a Canadiens AHL team full of goalies, etc.), but if Roli struggles, I'm not sold on him as a starter next season. If Roloson gets hurt, or his play drops off, and suddenly Deslauriers is expected to play 60 NHL games at a high level, can he do it? Would you give him 50/50 odds, even?

    I don't mind gambling on D or up front, but I get awfully nervous when they do it with goaltenders.

  • Jack "slacking off at work" Bauer

    I think this is all hinged on this years success, if we want to resign players and keep the team in the shape it is now. Lowe himself has said a team usually takes a 10-15% turnover after the season. So who is gone? Depending on how we finish this year, do we want to resign all these guys? Were not a Detroit nor a San Jose, so why would we want to keep everyone from this year? Also what happens at the deadline?

    Personally, I dont see how we can afford Cole AND the forwards and defense we already have signed going into next year. If the cap goes down in 2010-2011, and everyone is near or at the cap now, the next year if it goes down 6-8 million, its going to be a shît show trying to deal guys. Tabelinni cant expect to spend to the cap for next year in the hopes of being able to deal some players down the road if the cap goes down, because 26 teams will be trying to do that.

  • RobinB

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    I've known JDDsince draft day and saw his every game with the Roadrunners in the AHL during the 04-05 season (I travelled with the team and we treated them like the Oilers coverage-wise during the lockout).

    He's grown in leaps and bounds since then, especially emotionally, as you'd expect with the natural maturing process. He tended to have big emotional swings back then and I don't see those now.

    For instance, there was a game at The Pond in Anaheim against Cincinnati in which Deslauriers gave up the winning goal after he wandered out of the net and blindly cleared a puck onto Joffrey Lupul's stick in the slot. Lupul fired it into the open net and Deslaurier was a wreck, to the point of tearing up, after the game. He was in a funk for awhile after that.
    He's also battled through tough circumstances with the Oilers not having their own AHL level team and come through fine.

    I always thought JDD had the physical tools but I questioned his mental make-up when he first broke in. I don't have questions about that anymore.

  • Rick

    Not that it makes a huge difference but I believe that since the CBA is not being re-opened by the NHLPA the rookie bonuses won't count againt the cap next year.

    Therefore Gagner and Cogliano will only count against the cap at 850K each.

    As for the goalie situation and resigning Cole and or Grebeshkov I would like to see the Oilers spend their money on an elite goaltender first if they can find one.

    If they can lose some money elsewhere (Nilsson for starters) to resign the skaters then great but a top flight goalie would be more of difference maker than either of those guys.

  • Ender the Dragon

    JDD may very well turn out to be the stopper everyone hopes he can be. I just think Oiler fans are a bit gun-shy when they reflect on other young goalies who we hoped would step up and never panned out here (Conklin, Morrison, Gage, etc.) A proven stopper is a little easier on the average fan's remaining nerve.

  • RobinB

    Mr DeBakey wrote:

    Can the Oilers find a physical, 4th-line LW to play for less than $2 million?

    I'd suggest Aaron Voros. He's big, he's physical and he's got some offensive talent. I don't know if he fits with the Rangers. He's signed through the 2010-11 season at $1 million per year. Has enough game to see spot duty on the third line.

  • mjsh

    With those numbers, how in the world does this team ever get to the next level. Somewhere, some how, they have to unload some salary and get some more people who play over their contracts. I for one think that Rolly will be fine for at least another year and I want Grebs back. I still think he has more potential than Gilbert.

  • Ol goalie

    There is nothing to say that Deslauriers won’t continue to progress. His mental toughness is the area he has worked on the most, and his size, agility and quickness make him a pretty good prospect to continue that curve. Having an experienced goalie to push him and possibly back him up is a good scenario for the OIlers.

    Jason, you should sell snake oil.

    Really, this is cause for optimism. Don't insult our intelligence. Every indicator of success you list here applies to many AHL and fringe NHL goalies most of whom can't cut it.

    BTW, how was JDD's play in the A this season? Did he do as well as a real NHL starter would've? If some other team's AHL goalie had a similar record, would you want to trade for him so he could be our starter next year? I doubt it.

    If you want to hope that JDD will make it, that's fine, but don't try to con us into believing we have reason to believe he'll succeed.

    T best we can say he has a chance at being an average NHL backup, and a tiny hope of being something better.

  • Jonathan Willis

    JW doesn’t think a Roloson/Deslauriers combo is very reassuring to start next year. Why not?

    I'm not going to say it won't work, but I have two problems with that tandem:

    1) Dwayne Roloson will be 40 next season; I hate to rely on a guy that old to play a significant role in net.
    2) Jeff Deslauriers (who I like as a prospect) has posted a .912 and .908 SV% in his last two AHL seasons. He has a .915 SV% in 6 NHL games and a .906 SV% in 5 AHL games this year, so I haven't seen enough to convince me that he's ready. He's been good when called upon, but until he plays well over twenty or thirty games, I'm not sold on him.

    Maybe that tandem works out OK, but maybe it doesn't. It's a huge question mark at the most vital position on the team.

    I like Deslauriers, but if he's going to be one half of the tandem, I'd be much more comfortable with an established starter not in his twilight years than I am in Roloson.

    If cap space in net is that big of a concern, perhaps Deslauriers could be dealt (especially given that Dubnyk's waiting in the wings) and Roloson could return with a Garon-type (Gerber, Labarbera, Legace, etc.) and then there's a little bit better safety net if one of the two falters.

  • RobinB

    Jason: If the NHL made sense, Cole could be had for the money you talk about, but it doesn't so I doubt he'll sign for that.
    We've seen so many signings of players to long-term deals for big money, even when they're coming off sub-par seasons, that I have little faith he'd stay for $4 million as a UFA. Even with a downturn in the economy and cap that's likely to go down, there'll be a Jeff Finger offer out there somewhere.
    If Cole scores 20-25 goals and plays like he has in the last month, somebody will offer him $4.5-$5.5 a season. Would he take less to stay here? I don't think so.

    As for Nilsson, I still think he's a goner at some point. History says he'll slack-off again and it's pretty obvious MacT won't have that. Plus, he's got the kind of talent that will tempt somebody to take a chance on him via trade.

    With the goaltending — and what do I know after pushing for Garon to play 60-plus games to start the season? — Roloson is the perfect mentor for Deslauriers. You've seen him in the room. He's a pro. He competes. If he finishes the season without showing any signs the wheels are falling off, why not offer him a one-year deal?

  • shakey

    If you had to pick one, who would it be, Cole or Grebeshkov? Considering who we have in the organization that could come close to filling their respective roles on the team.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Horcoff $5.5 million
    Penner $4.25 million
    Hemsky $4.1 million

    No matter how many times I see it it's still funny. At least Lowe's strategy of throwing huge, long-term deals at guys who had a good year works some of the time!