During his time as General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers, Kevin Lowe had his share of dodged bullets. The failed pursuit of Michael Nylander stands out in that category, as does the decision by the Buffalo Sabres to match Thomas Vanek’s offer sheet (thus sparing the Oilers the loss of four consecutive first round draft choices).
We can now add a dodged bullet to Steve Tambellini’s resume.
Just a few short days ago, I offered praise to Tambellini for not ponying up the money to match Glen Sather’s wild four-year/$6.6 million dollar offer to unrestricted free agent Derek Boogaard. After all, there’s no shame in backing out of a bidding war – even for a necessary piece – when the price becomes prohibitive.
Thanks to Larry Brooks, however, we now know that Tambellini wasn’t the one who did the backing out. No, it was Derek Boogaard, who left Oilers money on the table to sign on with the New York Rangers:
Boogaard’s four-year, $6.6 million contract seems wildly excessive and will challenge coach John Tortorella’s familiar assertion that paychecks don’t influence lineup decisions. It is a fact, however, that Edmonton actually offered Boogaard — who is going to Russia this summer to train with Pavel Datsyuk –$7 million over four years.
Leaving aside the question of whether an enforcer without the skill to play a regular NHL shift is a help or a hindrance to his NHL club, does that seem like a remotely defensible deal?
Putting it in perspective, that means Edmonton valued Boogaard at a rate:
- 3.5 times as high as Steve MacIntyre
- 3.4 times as high as John Scott
- 2.9 times as high as Raitis Ivanans
- 2.9 times as high as Zenon Konopka
- 2.2 times as high as Brandon Prust
- 1.6 times as high as Jody Shelley
It’s also worth mentioning that deal would have seen Boogaard under contract for twice as long as any of the players listed above, and four times as long as the player Edmonton eventually signed.
Is Boogaard worth 3.5 Steve MacIntyres for four times as long? He may be the premiere enforcer in the game but he is also a player with a lot of recent injury trouble and no goals over his previous four seasons.
I don’t see how Boogaard was worth either the dollars or the term he was offered, given his health, other on-ice contributions, and the deals being signed by other fighters. It’s just fortunate that Glen Sather was around to offer up a comparable figure, and even more fortunate that Boogaard preferred the New York offer.
UPDATE: Many of you have commented on the credibility of Larry Brooks as a source. As he is the sole source of this information, it’s entirely plausible that the information he provides is incorrect. That said, the fact that he states it so strongly ("it is a fact" rather than "I’ve heard" or something similar) as well as the fact that we know the Oilers pursued Boogaard have me inclined to believe the report is correct. I also don’t think there’s any definite contradiction between Brook’s report and Ryan Rishaug’s; it’s entirely possible the Oilers tabled that deal and chose to end negotiations (hypothetically, if Boogaard’s agent advised them there was a greater premium needed, or if there was a time limit attached to the deal, etc.).
With all of that said, readers must use discernment, and Brooks’ word carries different weight with different people. I appreciate that readers have brought this up in the comments, as it is a highly relevant point. With any luck, we’ll get some further light shed on this from another source.