This is Jay McKee. 32 years old, veteran, great shot blocker. Free Agent. And he’s not alone.

A little more than 15 years ago baseball had a tremendous number of major leaguers who were free agents. The 1994 strike meant that when MLB got down to business there hundred of available players of all shapes and sizes. The main thrust of the situation is explained here.

Because of the salary cap and the way NHL managers are handling it (paying the elite players full throttle and then squeezing the lower group) the hockey business has all kinds of unemployed millionaires. It is bizarre, but there are some outstanding talents available on the cheap.

Earlier this week Steve Tambellini suggested the Oilers had enough forwards (too many forwards). I think they need a veteran RH center, but the organization has Colin Fraser for that tougher minutes/PK role and may use Horcoff in a checking role as well. In regard to the defense, there could be a free agent defender out there with the ability to help the 10-11 edition of Edmonton’s team. The full list is here, courtesy capgeek.

Would Jay McKee accept an invitation to camp from the Oilers? Would Aaron Johnson? 

  • Ender

    @ madjam
    @ andrewmk20

    In a buyout, you stretch whatever cap hit* there is out over twice the years remaining on the contract, in this case being four years.

    *cap hit determined yearly by complex mathmatical formulae

    On re-entry waivers, both the contract and the full cap-hit are split 50/50 between the selling and buying teams for the remaining term of the contract. In this case, that hits the Oil for roughly $2.5M on both the books and the cap for two years. No doubt other teams would bite on that, but I doubt it would be a palatable option for the Oilers.

  • Mitch

    @ Lowetide

    Do you see the oilers sending Souray to OKC, this would give them more cap space, or is there a trade market for him taking the same dollars back. Or does Tambi make Souray sit at home and just pay him to sit?

    I don’t mind seeing Tambellini make Cogliano and Gagner wait for new deals, the ball is in the oilers court on this one. Both players really haven’t taken proper developement steps since there first yr in the league, so if one of them deceides to sit out it would be a huge mistake on thier part.

  • I can’t see how sitting out at 20 would be in any way helpful to a pro athlete’s development. 100% these guys will want to play. It’d be career suicide to not do so. There’s waaaaay too much money at stake.

  • Ender

    In a year flooded with free-agents sitting out or going to Europe and teams pressed up against the cap, the Oilers know the likelihood of any offer sheets being tendered is remote at best. And like David S says, either of Cogs or Gagner sitting out constitutes career suicide. The Oilers hold all the cards on this one. Both of those players will have contracts before the start of the season, and they’ll be Oiler-friendly contracts*. Andrew and Sam are both probably wishing their contracts had expired in a different year.

    *My understanding is that the hold-up isn’t about money; the Oilers want the contracts to expire when the players are still RFA’s, while Cogs and Gagner want this contract to carry them into unrestricted status so they don’t have to do this again. I’m betting the Oilers get their way on this one.

  • Darth Oiler

    I am sick of all the bloggers saying we should add this vet or that vet. We are in a rebuild players like Jay McKee maybe a great value for the dollars you would have to spend on him, but he would only take minutes away from Peckham Plante and Petry.

    • Darth Oiler

      How would they take minutes away. Peckham, Plante, and Petry have yet to prove that they can dominate in the AHL let alone the NHL. Teams like the Canadiens brought up PK Subban because he was playing extremely well in Hamilton.

      The three you’ve named have all struggled with inconsistency at the AHL level. All three will start the year in the AHL and will continue to develop their game. They’re between 21-23, they still have a lot of learning and developing to do before taking a spot on the team. A veteran like Jay Mckee would allow us to bring them along slowly. Have we all forgotten what happened with Gagner and Cogliano being thrust into major roles at 18/20 years of age.

      • Moop

        Exactly. In my opinion, it’s better to have veterans on 1-year deals getting murdered at the NHL level while the kids get big minutes (and development time) on the farm, instead of bringing the kids up and watching them get murdered in roles they’re not ready for or getting stuck playing 7 minutes a night.

      • VMR

        They played well and put up good points?

        Really they both had great seasons the first year they were here they just didnt manage to continue that pace, which isnt surprising on a team as bad as this one has been the past few years. They still have plenty of time to develop into decent NHL players.

        Jay Mckee doesnt really help in bringing players along slowly. He’s injury prone and is unlikely to put in significant minutes or consistantly be in the game enough to matter. We have several other players who can take that ice time, Vandermeer, Belle, and yes Strudwick if it’s necessary even before Peckham steps onto the ice. We have a glut of guys who can be in the 5-6 pairing, no need for one more who had problems sticking with St. Louis and didn’t really impress with the Penguins.

        • VMR

          It wasn’t so much just the team. After the first season defenceman started to learn their tendencies and played them harder along the boards as both of them tend to play the perimeter.

          If they had been given a little more time to get stronger and adjust to the pro game like what the Oilers have done with Jordan Eberle than the likelihood is that they would have been more successful to this point in their careers.

          I’m not disputing their rookie success but since then I’ve seen either slow development(Gagner) or no development(Cogliano). I’m saying it would have benefited them in the long run if they had been given more time that’s all.

          • VMR

            The problem is they wouldnt have been developing their pro game they would have been playing in the minors against young guys who wouldnt have been as much of a physical challenge. It’s possible keeping them playing in the OHL could have been better for them but it’s just as likely that it would have stunted their development. It’s impossible to know.

          • VMR

            I’m wondering if you even watch hockey. The AHL is a pro league. It’s basically the equal of AAA Baseball to the MLB. You have to be 20 years of age minimum to play in the AHL and the league is littered with a lot of pro players. Alexander Giroux(a recent oiler signing) is a prime example of this. Playing in the AHL helps young players who have a lot of potential but are still raw. Ovechkin/Kane/Toews/Crosby/Malkin were able to thrive because they were all physically ready enough to play in the league. Sam Gagner is loaded with potential but if you saw scouting reports on him at 18 many said that he was physically not strong enough to play right away. Andrew Cogliano only played two years in NCAA and was also thought to still be a little ways away in terms of physical maturity. They are good players though which is how they put up respectable 40+ point campaigns in their rookie years. I’m not closing the book on them because young guys will always struggle. I’m saying the Oilers would have been better off taking their time with them and signing vets to short term deals until they were ready.

            Once again do oiler fans have any problems with the pace which they brought up Eberle because he’s looked much better being brought along slowly. And if you paid attention Eberle was in the top 3 in terms of strong showing at the Oilers training camp the last 2 years and the Oilers still sent him back because they didn’t think he was physically ready to withstand the punishment of an NHL season. Proof that they learned from past mistakes.

  • VMR

    “Exactly. In my opinion, it’s better to have veterans on 1-year deals getting murdered at the NHL level while the kids get big minutes (and development time) on the farm, instead of bringing the kids up and watching them get murdered in roles they’re not ready for or getting stuck playing 7 minutes a night.”

    Worked out great for #99 whom every one predicted would get killed in the NHL

    • Moop

      First of all that’s Gretzky a generational talent. You can’t compare anybody to him.
      Secondly the Oilers don’t even have elite guys like Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin in their rookie class, otherwise we so called detractors would agree and say that we should hand the reins to the rookies.

      The Oilers have quality talent in their system but they are prospects that still require maturing and developing. There aren’t that many no.1’s that are Nashs, Kovalchuks,Ovies, etc. you get my point.

      They aren’t a rookie group that can carry a team in their first year but given time and properly developed the trio of Hall,Eberle, MPS are all first line players.

  • VMR

    Everbody keeps saying sign this vet sign that vet. Tambo most likely said he thinks he has too many players because he does. The oilers only have at most 3 contracts left before we are again at the max of 50. Sam and Cogs are those contracts. Only one i see going away is Souray and even thats not a sure thing. ( I’m willing to bet he starts the year here.).

    sam will be in town next week so i see his contract getting done then. Cogs i think will be a sign and trade to get rid of souray.

    Love the blogs by the way LT. Not to sure about the colours at your old place though.

  • Moop

    Gags and the boys lack of progress had a lot to do with the lack of offence , size and physical presence to protect them , and the lack of support we got from rest of team to be honest . Those were extenuating circumstances that impeeded their progress in years 2 and 3 . Beyond Hemsky and his injuries and Penner we had little offence to throw at opposition lets recall .

    The new crop of rookies should not have near the hurdles Gags and boys faced if you all remember . I believe our new rookies will fair much better added to the Gags group, a healthy productive Hemsky , and Penner this time round .

    We didn’t destroy the Gags group , or them destruct in year 2 and 3 , we just never had the tools and offence to help them much in the past .

  • VMR

    @ Andrewmk

    They sign a vet, it takes ice time away from a developing player. I’m not sure what math suggests the opposite.

    Andrew said:

    “If they had been given a little more time to get stronger and adjust to the pro game like what the Oilers have done with Jordan Eberle than the likelihood is that they would have been more successful to this point in their careers.”

    I don’t think you can assert this. It’s probably different for every kid, but like most things in life, you learn by doing something, not by watching veterans do it for you. Expectations are at an all time low for this team. Now is the perfect time to throw some young players in the mix and let them learn the game.

    BTW, Peckham is waiver eligible. He’ll be on the roster on opening night since the team is not going to risk waivers to send him to OK. Some of his time this year with the big team may may end up in the press box, but his days of “learning the game” in the AHL are likely done.

  • VMR

    Can’t imagine Peckham being a very good AHL defenceman yet , never mind an NHL talent ? Who would bother picking him up off waivers , when you consider all the UFA’s still unsigned ? I don’t see a big loss even if he were not to clear waivers to be honest .

  • VMR

    True, veterans will take away playing time from rookies – but the purpose of signing veterans to take the minutes from rookies who aren’t ready for NHL yet.

    Example – Eberle tries a move at the blueline that Toews reads, and strips him of the puck and heads up the ice. He goes one-on-one with.. Taylor Chorney. Chorney lunges at the wrong time and Toews beats Chorney and scores a goal. Eberle hangs his head in shame, and loses confidence on “trying” things.

    Same Scenario: Toews reads, and strips him of the puck and heads up the ice. He gones one-on-one with… Jay McKee. McKee reads the situation correctly and forces Toews outside and into the corner. Eberle doesn’t lose confidence, and vows to try the same move again, but with more speed or different angle or…

    It’s not just a case of giving prospects minutes “doing” Ashley, it’s a case of you can’t have five prospects on the ice at the same time, regardless if you’re going for the Cup or just working on development. There’s not a lot of development fishing the puck out of your net for the umpteenth time.

  • Eddie Shore

    @Master Lok

    A fair point. Some balance is necessary. However, the Oilers forwards have a lot of talent, and I don’t anticipate a problem with confidence or skill. Your “defense-oriented” scenerio of Chorney vs McKee doesn’t really wash since the Oilers blue is so bad that they are going to be fishing pucks out o the net all year McKee or no McKee. A kid that is afraid to try a move at the blueline a second time doesn’t find hemself gettign picked in the first round of the NHL draft. It takes a certain level of bravado and chutzpah to make it to the pros. These guys will make mistakes, and the coaching staff is going to put them right back out there to try again, because that is what you do with kids. Now is the time. There is no pressure from the fanbase/ownership. A golden opportunity which should not be wasted on guys like McKee/Guerin.

  • misfit

    I’ve never felt that McKee was as good as his reputation, but I’d sign him in a heartbeat for this team. He’s an upgrade on both Vandermeer and Strudwick, and unlike 95% of the players on this team, he’s actually killed penalties from time to time.