At random: is Fernando a fit?

EDMONTON, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 16: Fernando Pisani #34 of the Edmonton Oilers stretches prior to the start of the game against the New York Islanders on September 16, 2009 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The Oilers won 3-2. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)

I’d like to know if Fernando Pisani is in the plans where the Edmonton Oilers are concerned, but it sounds to me like the people making the decisions — and this will surprise no one — haven’t figured that out yet.

With July 1 looming for Pisani to become an unrestricted free agent, the Oilers, as in GM Steve Tambellini, are sitting on the fence when it comes to the 33-year-old right winger.

My information is the Oilers have talked to agent Mark Witken, but haven’t committed to re-signing Pisani, even at a cut-rate from the $2.5 million he made last season.

Fair enough, given the health and injury problems that have stalled Pisani since he cashed in with a new contract after the 2006 Stanley Cup run, but at the same time, they’ve turned down a request by Whitken to talk to other teams before July 1.

If Pisani isn’t in the plans (assuming the Oilers have one) here, why not let him talk to other teams right now and see if he can get a contract? If he is in the plans — and, at the right price, I think he should be — why not let him know?

Indecision. That’s not like Tambellini…


Despite a recurring bout of colitis and injuries that have limited Pisani to seasons of 77, 56, 38 and 40 games since 2006, and the rebuilding job the Oilers are undertaking, I see room for Pisani on the right side.

Forget the dollars Kevin Lowe threw at Pisani after his 14 goals and 18 points during the 2006 post-season — you and I would have signed that contract in a second, too.

If Pisani is healthy, and if he’s willing to take a $1-million haircut and play for $1.5 million or less, he’s the kind of player who’d fit in well with that promises to be a baby-faced group of forwards.

Pisani has never been — and never was going to be — the scorer Lowe thought he might become when he offered $10 million for four seasons, but he’s the kind of responsible, time-tested veteran who could caddie for the kids as no worse than a third-liner.

Pisani is respected and well-liked in the dressing room. He isn’t aching to get out of town like Sheldon Souray and Ethan Moreau are. He isn’t an odd duck like Patrick O’Sullivan or a frustratingly inconsistent player like talented but indifferent Robert Nilsson, both of whom are candidates for buy-outs, starting tomorrow.


Pisani provides more value than you’d think just looking at his boxcars, and he’s the kind of player who kids like Tyler Seguin, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Jordan Eberle could learn a thing or two from.

If the Oilers don’t make a call on Pisani and he decides to look around as an UFA after July 1, there’s a pretty good chance somebody will snap him up, if the dollars are right.

I’m not saying that having Pisani walk would be a huge blow to the long-term fortunes of the Oilers, because that would be overstating matters, but I can tell you from watching Pisani first hand over the years, he’s the kind of veteran a rebuilding team like this needs to bring the kids along. He’s a pro.

If Tambellini feels the same way, if he’s got a minute between taking calls on offers for the first overall pick in Los Angeles, it might be an idea to let Pisani and Witken know. If not, let them shop around.


— Anybody been reading these Twitter "tweets" from the guy calling himself Oilers_Insider? Whoever it is claims to work at the Oilers "head" office, and he’s prone to throwing out (bad) rumours.

Among other things, Mr. Inside Guy has suggested the Oilers have already done the paperwork in preparation to buy-out Nilsson. He wrote: "spoke with a buddy in legal and paperwork has been prepared for a buyout of Nilsson- expect closer to draft day if he cant be traded sooner."

Maybe, maybe not. I haven’t been able to confirm it.

This is the same guy who said he had the inside dope that Eberle would be called up from Springfield for the final four games of the season. Sounds like Oilers_Insider ain’t that far inside.

— I listened with interest to Morley Scott’s debut as the Eskimos play-by-play guy on 630 CHED against Calgary Sunday and I have to say I was distinctly underwhelmed.

It’s early, and the Eskies, from all accounts, didn’t exactly light the playbook on fire and give Rod Phillips former sidekick and analyst Dave Campbell much to work with, but I wasn’t moved by what I heard, even allowing for the expected glitches that always come with a new gig.

— Look at the Oilers depth chart on defence and take a glance at the legion of runts up front — even if they get weeded out — and tell me that pending UFA John Scott isn’t a fit on defence.

I see Jim Matheson’s been campaigning for Scott for a couple of weeks now, as well. Great minds think alike (and fools seldom differ).

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Lofty

    Let him walk. I would rather see someone who brings more to the the table get a chance. Pisani is good defensivly but he doesnt put up many points, doesnt play physical and cant handle a full NHL season. Next please.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I kinda like the Scott idea, just as long as the plan is 6-7. Hopefully if he gets thrown into the top 4 like Strudwick people don’t rip on him for being useless. Not Struds fault that he was asked to play a far bigger role then when he signed.

    Boychuk is still someone I’d look at, but I could just imagine what kind dollars he wants.

    As for Pisani, not sure I’d want him for 1.5mil. I understand we need vets and Pisani is a guy that doesn’t want out, but 1.5mil seems a bit high for an injury plagued guy such as himself. Does he even get 1.5 on the open market? 700k give or take and I’d sign him.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      It’s not a case of either/or with Scott and somebody like Boychuk because they slot in differently.
      Boychuk would obviously cost more, but he’d fit in the Oilers second pairing with Smid. Scott is a third-pairing/7th D-man player.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Take both then 🙂

        With that being said does Johnson or Strudwick still fit on this team? The way I see it is regardless of if we bring both back we need someone to play with Smid on the second pairing. Unless of course Souray is here on opening day, which could be a possibilty.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ Robin

    What did you think of trying to pluck a couple UFA dmen out of Whashinton, Jurcina and Morrisonn specifically. I can’t see the Caps having the ability to give them much, if anything of a raise.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I think there’s room for Pisani … if he’s healthy.

    We can’t get rid of all the veterans and we’re not going to get rid of all the veterans, so it’s a matter of keeping the right ones. Fernando is one of the right ones, as long as the price is right.

  • Crash

    Put me down with those that have the utmost respect and admiration for Pisani but that the Oilers need to move on and change the culture of their bottom six…

    IMO the Oilers need to get bigger and nastier in the bottom six…whether that be signing some guys like an Adam Burish or trading for guys like Jordin Tootoo and/or Ben Eager…

    We need some guys in our bottom six that will answer the bell and stand up for teammates at the drop of the hat and throw hits at other teams top players and then back it up when challenged….Pisani can’t and doesn’t play this role. We already have a soft player in the form of Horcoff for our bottom six, now it’s time for the grit.

    If the Oilers strike out in this area and Pisani is still available at that point then by all means otherwise time to move on.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    With only 10 days to go before the draft we look with great excitement and expectations to the Oiler club going on the right track towards “righting our sinking ship ” . A proper rebuild to build new hope on . Next 12 days or so we will have, with any luck, much to look forward to ,and a celebration kickoff at Rexall Place to express it , right optimistic fans ! I certainly hope so .

    We are set to turn the corner , right ? Lowe and Tambellini have turned the corner to , right ! OOHHH – everything hinges on those two having turned the corner firstly . If they have not turned the corner our sinking ship could end up being completely blown up with little NHL talent left on our club , and very questionable draft picks and fringe NHL’ers.

    Last draft i attended we ended up with Kelly instead of Doan . Maybe i might not go to Rexall after all , if they somehow get talked out of Hall and take Sequin that might turn out to be the next Kelly down the road ? What if they gut the NHL caliber players for unknown draft picks or more fringe NHL players rather than upgrades ?

    Certainly Lowe and Tambellini have turned the corner and we are going to singing their praises down the road . Their certainly not going to continue blowing up our ship anymore , right ?

    A lot can happen positively from now till then and afterwards and here’s hoping it works for an upward swing .

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Sorry i spelt his name once again with a q instead of a g . Consider this in your assessment as to whom we should draft firstly . The more Bruins , and others offer us for our first round choice , is more reason why we should keep Hall !! If them , and everyone else was offering nothing ,then i would consider Seguin as being the equal of Hall . The more they offer the more i like staying put with Hall over any deal i have yet seen or heard discussed .

        I don’t like the prospect of passing up on Hall . Lets take advantage of the opportunity here as it may be a long time if rebuild is successful to do it again. Keep our draft picks as they are now , as it will probably be safest route to go in the end . I just hope we don’t sell the “farm” on what little NHL caliber talent we have now for unknown draft picks or more fillins and downgrades .

        • If the Bruins depth was all at wing and not at all in Centre I wonder how strong they’d be going after Hall.

          These are two teams with VERY different needs.

          That said, every scout I’ve heard says these guys are cant miss, I wont be upset if the Oil take Hall…until Seguin becomes a 85-90 point centre that leads the Bruins to the Stanley Cup while Hall bides his time, stuck on the Oilers 1st line with no centre capable of matching his play until he’s 25 and leaves to play on a club that figures out that depth at Centre is how Championships are won.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I understand your position and thinking on Seguin . But can you make the same or comparable assumption with Connolly or Gudbranson being perhaps above both top 2 into the future ? Connolly is the forgotten commomdity here, and their is no guarantee he will not exceed them all .

            Take your poison , but there is no way anyone has given me any stellar reason not to stick with Hall as a clear cut choice here . I’ll be very disappointed if they blow this opportunity to draft him . Considering it’s probably Lowe and Tams doing the final decision here , i’m not to optimistic they might draft Hall, if last several seasons trends continues to haunt us .

            Hall may not turn out to be the best player into the future , but their is no way you take that chance considering all that he has done up till now !

          • The others road his T.V. time as he was always the major star . well not to beat this to death .

            How do you feel about staying away from Hall because he might get run in the NHL ? Name me one player of star quality thats not getting run ? Ever see Gretzky, Crosby , Toews , Kane , Karija , Ovechkin , Malkin get ran ! They are all going to get run over irregardless who they are . Once again Hall can and will take it, and come back like the energizer bunny at NHL level as well . If Seguin is half decent he’ll get run just as much .

            I find it a pretty lame excuse to want to stay away from drafting Hall because he will/might get hurt perhaps down the line . This is hockey not figure skating . He’ll get cranked by the Webers , Prongers , Phaneuf’s , and headhunters like Richards, etc. – but he’ll take them like everyone else – he’ll survive quite well .

          • I never said the Oil shouldnt draft Hall because Hall might get hurt, I said they shouldnt draft Hall because Seguin is better.

            I dont know how effective Hall will be transitioning to a league where his size is average and he wont benefit from playing on a powerhouse club. I’m sure he’ll be good, but I like what Seguin brings.

            In a week and a half I’ll find out who I have to cheer for next year anyway, and all this debating wont count for crap. If the Oilers take Hall then I hope I am absolutely wrong about who is better.

  • Poo Czar

    I’m all for bringing in more grit/sandpaper/crust, but the team clearly has character issues as well, and Pies is straight class. How does having a guy like that in the room not help the kids understand the commitment and professionalism we hope Oilers players to have?

    I have never met the man, but I get the impression that if anyone was to sign for a home-town discount, it’d be the guy who’s already been overpaid, is from the city, and might want to show some loyalty. Who better than Cousin Nando to show the kids what it means to be an Oiler?

    Local hard working class guy with something to prove on a discounted deal? Yes please!

  • JohnQPublic

    Who knows what kind of deals are being considered in OilTown? Fernando is a steadying influence in the room and I hope he stays, but he isn’t an extremely rare commodity.

    I can’t pass judgement on Tambo for not wanting to sign him until he has played out all his options. You can’t predetermine what deals are available this far out. The pressure screws of the ticking time clock have to be applied until the best offers are on the table.

    And for the posters who claim that keeping people hanging isn’t fair, there is no fair in the land of million dollar salaries. If there was, both Souray and Fernando would have returned some of what they were paid over the last few years.

  • How might Burris , Carcillo and Scott fair in protecting a diminutive lineup ? If we had all three ,they might aggrevate other physical teams to run our small forwards even more ,so as we would be killing off needless penalties all game long . In the interim how many valuable minutes could the 3 of them be expected to play outside their normal rolls ?

    I’d prefer they went after tough other types that eat up valuable minutes like Byfuglien , Versteeg and Simmonds types ! I don’t think we have the proper balance to go after aggetators just yet .

  • Let's Rebuild

    I hope they decide to keep Pisani. Since 2006 he has been my wife’s favorite player and often the only reason she’ll watch hockey with me. If he doesn’t come back next year and we are rebuilding I predict a lot of tension in the house over the number of games I watch.

    • What has Seguin done to make me think he isnt as good as the OHL coaches who voted him MVP and Prospect of the year say he is and will be?

      Hall hasnt done anything he hadnt done all year long, except prove that his style of play lends him to be injured in May and June.

      I’m not swayed by the playoff run he had while playing on the best team in the CHL.

  • Let's Rebuild

    Fernando has a spot on my team if a contract can be agreed to.

    I hear guys talking about changing the culture of the bottom six and I appreciate that to a degree, I just don’t think everyone in our bottom six needs to move.

    Sure there are guys that would love a ticket out of town, I haven’t gotten that impression from Fernando.

    On top of that Pisani is well regarded, well spoken, a very good penalty killer, can chip in some offense, is a local guy, and if he can stay healthy for 60 games a season is well worth 1 to 1.5mil on a 1 year deal. If he is agreeable to less, then fantastic, but I wouldn’t be too worried about a 1 year deal in the 1.5 range for a bottom six player. Its the 4 year deals for 2+ that make me nervous.

    As for John Scott, me concern is still his lack of mobility. If he can improve enough to be more then an iceburg on skates then he can fit that bottom pair/extra defenseman slot. My worry…if he’s so great, why is Minnesota letting him go? He can be as great a guy as there is out there, but if he isn’t good enough, he is useless.

  • Let's Rebuild

    PASS! dudes going to be on the downhill.

    get real third/fourth liners on this team now who want to INITIATE crushing the other team and focus on a strong forecheck. Pisani is way too vanilla. yeah, he put up OK points under MacTavish and got PK time… but with the wimps in the top 6, there needs to be way more grit on the bottom.

    make some trades for real grit players who are versatile:

    – Brouwer, Troy: 40 pts, 189 hits $1 mil (4 tilts)
    doubt CHI dumps him at 1 mil but a contract year coming up might be preemptive to move him now with players like Beach, etc coming into the mix

    Nate Thompson: 10 points, 120 hits, 91 blk shots, 54% out of 595 taken (6 fights) – 2:47 a game on the PK with TBL

    Hall – Horcoff – Hemsky
    Penner – Gagner – Eberle
    Brouwer – Horcoff – MPS
    JFJ – Thompson – Stortini

      • yea! i noticed that after i posted and was organizing the lines and didnt care to fix it. you get the point. Brule on the third line! not as gritty of a third line i like and not too effective defensively but whatever. just throwing ideas at the wall.

        (1) Hall – Horcoff – Hemsky (2) Penner – Gagner – Eberle (3) Brouwer – Brule – MPS (4) JFJ – Thompson – Stortini