The two-week buy out period starts tomorrow, and free agency is 17 days away, so be prepared to read and hear lots of conjecture on teams who are interested in certain players. But ask yourself how many of them are realistic.
I road in the MS bike tour over the weekend, 90 kilometres a day on a bike is pretty tough when you only practice four times prior, so while I was icing my knees yesterday I had lots of time to scan the web on hockey stories.
Some stories made sense, some seemed like a stretch and others were so asinine it hurt to read them. Bruce Garrioch was bang on at the start of his article when he quoted an NHL executive stating the 2010 UFA crop is pretty weak. He was wise enough to suggest a team could pay Tomas Plekanec $4.5 million a season, and regret it the next morning.
But then he lists his top-ten UFAs, and puts that Edmonton or Columbus might bite on Plekanec. Has he seen the Oilers lineup? A small forward who is inconsistent and rarely physical is not a priority in Edmonton. The Oilers have plenty of them already. Not to mention that Steve Tambellini already stated publicly the Oilers won’t be chasing a big fish in free agency.
The Oilers are re-building through the draft and the only signings you will see in Edmonton will be in character/leadership guys of the 3rd and 4th line variety.
I re-read the line and wondered if there was an angle I was missing. “Tomas Plekanec, C, Montreal: If he leaves, some team will overpay. His 25 goals and 70 points made for a great season, but can he do it consistently? Edmonton or Columbus might bite.”
Was Garrioch taking a shot at the Oilers and Blue Jackets with his prediction? Was he subliminally suggesting only Edmonton and Columbus would be foolish enough to overpay Plekanec? Or was he just making a suggesting without putting any actual thought into it. I’d guess the latter.
I was told by an Oiler executive, there is no chance they go after Plekanec. Columbus needs a centre, Scott Howson said on the TEAM 1260 last week, that his major priority is a centreman. Howson already has two recent UFA signings not producing, Kristian Huselius and Sammy Pahlsson, why would he add a third in Plekanec?
It is easy to see that Howson would be way more inclined to trade his 4th overall pick and get a proven centre in return, than add another winger. Now if he could get Plekanec for $3 million a year after striking out trying to get a centre I could see it, but even that is doubtful.
I’m not naïve enough to know that many suggestions that get put forth never come to fruition, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any discussion between the teams mentioned. However, in this case, I can guarantee you the Oilers aren’t interested in Plekanec.
WHO GETS BOUGHT OUT, WHO, WHO, WHO, WHO!
One hit wonders, Baha Men, struck gold with “Who Let The Dogs Out”, why I’m not sure, but it was big hit. The 15 day buy-out period is open from June 15th to June 30th and in Edmonton there is tons of speculation as to who will go.
Ethan Moreau, Patrick O’Sullivan and Robert Nilsson are the only candidates that make sense for a buy out, and you could make a solid case for all of them. If Nilsson was bought out, in a strange cap hit scenario the Oilers would save $83,333 in cap space next season, so he seems the most likely.
If the Oilers can’t trade Moreau leading up to the draft, then expect them and the captain to part ways before June 30th. Moreau could end up making more money this year if he is bought out. The Oilers would have to buy him out for $1.32 million, (even if it is split over two years he still gets the money) and then on the free agent market he’d probably get $1-1.2 million. I get the sense the buy out scenario is most likely.
It’s been debated how many players a team can buy out, but via two NHL capologists there is no limit, so the Oilers could go hog wild and buy out O’Sullivan as well. That doesn’t seem likely. They will want some competition for their young wingers when camp starts. It would make the most sense to try and trade them at the draft before buying them out.
The Oilers aren’t tipping their hat on who they will buy out, and understandably so. A buy out has to be one of the most humbling experiences for a player, and to talk about it before it happens wouldn’t look good. Getting traded unexpectedly could be tough to handle, but at least you know another team wants you. When you get bought it, it’s telling everyone you haven’t lived up to your contract. That’s a big piece of humble pie.
The supposed $2 million increase in the salary cap might save one or two guys around the league from getting bought out, and we have heard a few rumblings of possibilities, but most teams are keeping any buyout talk quiet, which is the classy thing to do.
I know this is mostly a hockey site, but most of you are diehard sports fans so here are a few quick notes from Eskimo camp.
- Kamau Peterson, two years removed from being Canadian of the year, is in tough. He had too many drops last season, Andre Talbot has looked very solid in camp, and Peterson’s age and contract are also not working in his favour. With no guaranteed contracts in the CFL, releasing a veteran isn’t that hard. Peterson has to play well in BC on Sunday.
- The other great battle is at left tackle. The Eskimos have decided if they are going to play an import on the O-line it will be a left tackle. Calvin Armstrong moved from the right side to the left this year, and he is being pushed hard by Jeremy Parquet. If Armstrong doesn’t show the grit and fire he had two years ago, he might lose his job. That is the best battle in camp so far.
- Skyler Green and Tristan Jackson are in a battle to be the kick returner. Jackson has the advantage because he is a DB. The Esks will dress three, or maybe four, Canadian receivers so depth isn’t an issue there which might hurt Green. Jackson suffered a burner yesterday in the first quarter, but after the game he said it shouldn’t be too serious. I’d expect both to make the 46 man roster, but only one to dress each week.
- The five 0’clock start on Sundays should be a hit with fans if the weather is nice. Yesterday was a great day for football and a crowd of 33,000+ showed that Sunday afternoons aren’t a bad draw.