It was a summer that didn’t lack for storylines – between Sheldon Souray’s uncertain status, Nikolai Khabibulin’s court case, and of course the selection of Taylor Hall, there was a lot to talk about. One item noticeable by its absence was the Oilers’ annual star free agent chase, as Steve Tambellini instead focused on tweaking his bottom six. With training camp nigh, it felt like a good time to review what the Oilers G.M. did.
The following chart shows all the depth players (with NHL time last year) Tambellini made a decision on – players either let go, acquired or re-signed by the Oilers. I’ve excluded the higher end guys and instead focused on the reserves – guys outside the top six forwards or top four defencemen:
I don’t think I’m missing anyone, but if I am please let me know.
I’ve arranged the charts so that they’re ranked first by whether a one- or two-way deal was signed, than by NHL dollars, and then by AHL dollars, to show which players got the best contracts. My observations about this list:
- The nature of this list (only showing depth players) doesn’t display it very well, but I think Steve Tambellini got good deals on both Andrew Cogliano and Colin Fraser, since either could reasonably outperform the contracts they signed. Cogliano in particular was a good deal, thanks to the intersection of the worst season of his career with the end of his contract.
- Chris Minard’s deal with Detroit is essentially a minor league deal, and the closest comparable on this list is probably Alexandre Giroux (pictured), with the caveat that Giroux’s AHL results have been off the charts and Minard’s have only been very good. I like the gamble on Giroux for the money involved.
- Jean-Francois Jacques should be counting his lucky stars. The other half of the Parise deal is just as much a ‘tweener as Potulny, Pouliot and Stone, falls into the same age range, has uglier scoring numbers and similar or scarier health issues, yet somehow those three have to audition for various NHL teams while Jacques has an NHL contract handed to him.
- And since I mentioned the three ‘tweeners on two-way deals with other teams, is there some reason Steve Tambellini couldn’t have saved the contracts he gave to Stewart, O’Marra and Reddox (or Brad Moran, or Ben Ondrus) to those three? The deals are more or less the same, but Potulny, Pouliot and Stone are far better players. One quick example: last year, the first three guys scored 64 points in 198 AHL games (0.323 points/game) while the latter three scored 52 points in 116 NHL games (0.448 points/game). So not only did the Oilers’ rejects score at a 40% better clip, but they did it a full league above the three guys the Oilers elected to keep. I can’t come up with any kind of reasonable rationale to defend that comparison.
- All in all, Tambellini made some decent moves up front, but teams like Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Chicago got more bang for their buck by signing players he let walk.
- On defense, I don’t see why Strudwick isn’t getting the league minimum, and I’m not sure why Aaron Johnson was let go, given that he eventually signed a Shawn Belle-lite style deal.
I’m sure the caveat that some players don’t want to play in Edmonton is going to come up, but given that these guys have already played for the team I think it’s probably less of a factor. What does everyone else think?