MY TWO CENTS ON HALL AND PAAJARVI: A CONTRACT YEAR BURNED?

It’s been suggested by some people the Edmonton Oilers rebuilding plans would be best served by returning Taylor Hall to Windsor and Magnus Paajarvi to Sweden regardless of whether they earn a roster spot outright based on their play during pre-season.

The argument is playing Hall and Paajarvi now burns a year of their entry level contracts during a season in which the Oilers won’t contend. The team would be better off long-term, the logic goes, to wait and have the first year of their three-year entry level deals kick in for 2011-12.

I asked GM Steve Tambellini about that this morning. His answer wasn’t exactly thorough and didn’t really address the crux of the question, but here’s what he said:

"I think every situation is different," he said. "If players like what you’ve seen are playing against NHL players and are comfortable and confident and you think that, maybe there are a few holes that need to be worked on but you can live with that, that’s a different situation.

"You never want to put a player in the NHL when he’s not physically, mentally or skill-set ready. That’s up to them to show that they’re ready to be counted on, on a nightly basis, for Tom Renney and his staff. You have to really treat each situation on its own. Right now, they’ve all looked pretty comfortable."

I get the long-term argument, but after four straight seasons out of the playoffs, telling Hall and Paajarvi to wait a year as part of the big picture might be a tough sell for the majority of fans. They just want something to cheer about, and who can blame them?
 

The other issue for me, and I don’t think it’s insignificant, is the message a demotion sends to not only Hall and Paajarvi, but to the rest of the players in the organization. If performance doesn’t matter, what does?
 

If Hall and Paajarvi are ready, turn them loose

MILHOUSE LASHES OUT

I’ve painted a fence or two. It doesn’t make me a painter. I put out a grease fire in my kitchen once. That doesn’t make me a fireman. I was a little amused, then, to see I’d joined the ranks of Oilers fartcatchers, at least according to a Monday Tweet from Milhouse The Radio Man, after pitching decidedly underhand in a cushy Q&A with Tambellini as part of a season preview for NHL.com.

Milhouse, taking time out from letting followers know what he had for dinner, where he chowed down and when he crapped out the grub (apparently, it didn’t stink), tweeted:

"This is bookmarked for the next time RB calls anyone a fartcatcher or anything of the sort. Not exactly high heat http://tinyurl.com/23mqeq4"

I’ve taken swipes at people — as Jason Gregor, Rob Tychkowski, Ryan Rishaug, Jim Matheson and Bob Stauffer reminded me at the rink this morning — so I’ve got to expect to get a little back now and then. Sounds fair to me. High heat? No. Still, I don’t think my one-off, toothless little Q&A earns me membership in the Fraternity of Fartcatchers and Housemen with Milhouse.

Maybe a guest pass for the weekend, but not a full-ride.

I GOT YOUR HIGH HEAT RIGHT HERE

If Milhouse wants "high heat," specifically where Tambellini is concerned, he might want to take a look through Oilersnation archives from this past off-season. Here’s one example of a little gas, from June 22, with my take on how Tambellini handled the sacking of coach Pat Quinn:

"If Steve Tambellini was a member of the bomb squad with the Edmonton Police Service instead of the GM of the Edmonton Oilers, he’d be nothing more than smoking shreds of DNA by now.

"While Boston GM Peter Chiarelli was busy convincing Florida boss Dale Tallon to drop his trousers in the Nathan Horton trade, Tambellini was no doubt preparing his dissertation to the media after deciding he’d seen enough of Pat Quinn as his coach.

"That little ditty — Tambellini’s pitch that Quinn saw the bullet coming because handing Tom Renney the job was always in the plans and had been discussed — blew up in Tambellini’s face like a satchel of C4 once Quinn later had his say on a conference call with reporters.

"By afternoon, it became pretty obvious Tambellini and Quinn weren’t on the same page at all. That’s no surprise. Neither, given recent history, is that Tambellini fumbled handling the announcement, given he long ago blew off most of his fingers. All thumbs he is."

I’m thinking the above item alone likely scotches my chances at the gold-plated FOFAH card Milhouse is packing. I need not kneel at Tambellini’s feet, or behind him, for my livelihood.

THIS AND THAT

I remember wondering back on Sept. 7 if Stauffer was on to something when he suggested the Oilers top three lines would see Paajarvi playing with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, Hall with Shawn Horcoff and Jordan Eberle and Dustin Penner with Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule.

Stauffer strongly suggested back then we’d see these lines and it looks like he did take a peek at coach Renney’s white board. How many people since, especially lately, are tossing out the possibility of the same lines now like it’s an original thought?

There’s been plenty of debate about who’ll take the sixth and seventh spots on defence for the Oilers, and big, tough Theo Peckham is one of the names in the mix for those jobs with Shawn Belle and Richard Petiot. Peckham didn’t do himself any favours when he turned down an invitation to fight from Vancouver’s Darcy Hordichuk.

Saying "No thanks" the first time, on a face-off, is one thing. Doing nothing later after Hordichuk starting running around is another.

AND . . .

— Talk on press row around the rink is there might be a tug-of-war between Tambellini and Renney over Liam Reddox and Ryan Jones. The gab is Renney prefers Reddox, while Tambellini would like to keep Jones, plucked off waivers from Nashville last March. Reddox and Jones will be linemates against Phoenix Wednesday.

The way I see it, Jones had better get something done in his first action of pre-season because Reddox has the inside track for a roster spot and I don’t see room for both of them.

— Tambellini wouldn’t comment this morning on whether he’s talked to Minnesota about unloading one of his goaltenders now that Josh Harding it out for the Wild with a torn up knee, but that’s a phone call worth making, no?
Minnesota beat man Mike Russo, a connected guy, said today the Wild like Jeff Deslauriers, but that doesn’t mean there’s a deal in the works, yet.

— Coming into training camp, I dismissed Linus Omark as a YouTube sensation who had no chance of making this team. I still don’t see where Omark fits, given the numbers up front, but he’s got more to his game than I gave him credit for.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    This is a bad idea, We are probably going to finish in the bottom 5 so why not give them the introduction into the NHL now. Plus why not give the FANS something to go to the game for. Glen Sather didn’t do it with Gretzky when he mistakenly thought he was one of the players kids. He was 18. Hall and MP are ready for the NHL.

  • rookie

    let the kids play!! those who do not know the past are doomed to repeat it. let them have their learning curves now, with the team, instead of later, when the team is better, and the rookie mistakes might actually cost the team.

  • Ender

    The Edmonton Oilers are a business. Like any other entertainment business, the bottom line is that they try and make the largest profit possible. Sometimes you invest a little up front if there’s a larger profit to be made in the future, but good business demands looking at future speculation carefully.

    The question to me, then, seems to be what will gain the most overall profit; playing Magnus PI and the Golden Child now and reaping the spin-off revenue from interest in the team this year or pushing their contracts back a year and trying to get a slightly better vantage point to try and win it all in two or three years, gambling that the revenue from a Stanley Cup win will then offset the lesser interest this season.

    Maybe other people think this is complicated, but I don’t see much thought required as far as what I’d do. There are so many variables in winning a Cup; who gets hurt, who stays hot, who sleeps with someone they shouldn’t, who comes to training camp and wins a roster spot they had no business winning . . . every year these things can make or break a team. Trying to predict any of them 2-3 years in advance is like trying to read an entire book by looking at it’s reflection in a pond.

    The Oilers could win the Stanley Cup in two years or in twenty and whether Hall and/or Paajarvi are signed through 12-13 or 13-14 on their ELC is only a very small factor in when it might be. The potential extra profit if you gamble and get it right? I think minimal; as long as the Oilers are competitive, there will be a rabid fan base. The monetary difference to the team if it is ranked 6th as a Cup contender versus 4th is probably pretty insignificant. What does the team stand to lose if they just finished last in the league and the only major new face on the team is Eberle? I’d suggest the damage to the fanbase would be significant if you essentially announced out of training camp that you’re not even attempting to win a playoff spot.

    Keeping the kids on the team this year is the smartest move financially. While you might argue that you are 5% less likely to win a Stanley Cup by doing it, I don’t think you can argue that it’s less profitable overall. So buy your tickets this year, enjoy the ride, and keep hoping that in the near future it’s the other teams that get snakebit for a change.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      The Oilers could win the Stanley Cup in two years

      ~thanks for making me ruin another keyboard… ~

      and yes, i realize technically they “could”. i could also have an orgy with a limo full of playmates…

      my “could” is probably more likely

  • Fist is for tards

    I come here often and when i see some tard using Fist or first, just makes me think about how tards are trying to make this website into hockybuzz,take it there and leave the comments to people who are actually fans who have something to say

    I went for turd but i guess i am fort

    • longbottom/P.Biglow

      just so you know there are a few of us who post at both sites and that does not make us any less passionate or knowledgable. but as far as the geek with the fist/first comment take it to junior high man.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    @ Robin Brownlee

    Your talking about Kevin Lowe aren’t you? This reeks of his idiotic view on hockey that dates back to the early 90’s he is out of date and he should listen carefully what Tambo is trying to do for the team and its fan base.

  • Nice one Robin, love it when you put little Milhouse in his place. The guy has a bad case of little man syndrome. He also has the whole, “I think I’m a celebrity” swagger. No one cares what you had for supper Tencer. Maybe if you spent more time researching and less time tweeting you might have an ounce of insider info like Stauffer and Brownlee.
    Score one for Robin.

  • smiliegirl15

    Robin you have been more than fair to Tencer I think. You’ve even defended the little twit a few blogs ago.

    He has little to no respect for people who don’t think he’s wonderful. His thinly veiled contempt of his callers is grating at best.

    Robin you have more hockey, and Oilers, knowledge in your pinky than he will ever dream of having. His air of entitlement is just crying out for an RB smackdown.

    As fans, we make drink the koolaid but I think Tencer lives on his own special kind.

  • Buke

    I have been watching the young Oilers very close this year and I have been impressed with Omark. His offensive insticts are first rate and he is not afraid to stand his ground in traffic considering his severe lack of size. The only knock I have on him at the moment is an apparent unwillingness to play the defensive end of the game. A year in the AHL should be good for him. I hope the coaching staff sits him down and fills him in on the importance of 2-way play.

    On a side note, does anyone know how the Oil were able to pick Paajarvi with the 10th pick? I think some GM’s should be fired over this one (Glennie 8th to Dallas and Cowen 9th to Ottawa). I almost fell off my chair when he slipped to the Oilers.

  • Rich in the Park

    From what I have read, Dan seems to have very little respect for anyone in the industry, and often comes off as smug and pretentious. Such a shame.

  • Bucknuck

    Great read. RB, if you are a fartcatcher then I am a rocket scientist… and I always hated physics.

    Don’t let Millhouse get to you, I think he’s just damaged from all the wedgies he had growing up and needs to lash out.

    • I’ll be the first to admit that the Tambellini Q&A wasn’t hard-hitting stuff, but that’s not what I was looking for as part of the preview package.

      The leap Milhouse makes to me joining the FOFAH, or that I abdicated the ability to poke fun at those who must tow a company line (at least to some degree) because of one story, is a stretch.

      You won’t find me hammering Gene Principe or others who have certain jobs to do because their particular approach is demanded by the position they have.
      I poke a little fun with the fartcatcher remarks, but I’m well aware that not everybody toting a notepad or microphone inside Rexall Place is there to be the guy asking the hard-hitting questions.

      • Bucknuck

        Obviously no one keeps their job long if they go off publicly questioning and criticizing their bosses. Most people understand that, which is why most people I speak with have no problem with guys like Gene Principe. In fact I love Gene Principes; he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously and is often funny and just seems like a very nice man.

        Lobbing soft pitches as questions is just fine as it goes with the territory, and sometimes can be a measure of respect for the person who has granted you the time and opportunity to interview them.

        Now take someone who goes off at the mouth a lot issuing his opinions and acting like Lord of the manor. If that person issuing opinions all the time always seems to have the same opinion as his boss despite tremendous evidence to the contrary, then they piss me off.

        When people are passing along the company line as their own opinion and then acting as though they have hard hitting journalism they deserve to be labelled for what they are. Besides… when a person just seems to be trying too darn hard they are hard to take.

  • Rich in the Park

    Fist is annoying. I posted it to be annoying because I’m in a mood (it’s that time of month). I’m glad my post was removed. I just wish ALL fist comments were removed! But sadly as I continue to read awesome articles I will forever be bombarded at the end of the article by fist comments the moderator has chosen not to remove…I’m depressed now….

  • 9 Inches Uncut

    I don’t see why Minnesota would want anything to do with Deslauriers when Khudobin is already better and there are better options on the open market.

    Not to mention you can just get Deslauriers when they send him down in a week or so.

  • Cru Jones

    I think it might just be possible that Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi will be on the team this year because (GASP!) the management team and coaching staff think that they give them the best shot at (DOUBLE GASP!) actually winning some games. I know… it’s out there.

  • If Cogs does get traded this season do you think Omark will step in his spot?
    Omark played well with Penner and Penner plays well with Brule so its a match made in heaven (sorta joking)
    Also I must be missing something but why is Cogs still considered a center? He is junk at center and pretty much everywhere else.
    So Robin what Im asking you is: What are the Oilers managment feelings towards Cogs? also what kind of feelings do you get from them when speaking with them?

    • I’d like to see more of Omark and we probably will — likely in OKC. Trading Cogliano would obviously open up a spot for a player with Omark’s attributes.

      I don’t have a real feel for what Tambellini thinks about Cogliano. I know what he says, but we’ve never had an off-the-record chat or talked at any length about Andrew.

      I’d like to get a better feel for that, not to mention other issues, and I likely will now that I’m back in the rink more often with NHL.com. As of right now, though, I don’t have anything for you.

  • Petr's Jofa

    The Oilers already have the reputation as an organization that can’t attract players. What type of message would it send to Hall, MSP, and the rest of the league if after doing all that was asked of them, they are cut from the team to save on the 2013-14 cap hit? I don’t think it’s setting the proper tone for the core of the new players that are supposed to be the Oilers’ future.

    If they were cut to delay the expiry of entry level contract by a year, I wouldn’t blame either player for wanting out of the organization and wouldn’t be surprised if they asked for a trade or were less than great in the locker room.

    Now if they get their 9 games at the start of the season and it’s clear that they can’t hold their own, send them down, otherwise let them play.

    • If that is the type of player they are, what’s going to happen the next time things don’t go their way?

      Are they going to spoil the locker room or demand a trade then?

      If that’s the type of players they are, I don’t think any organization needs them.

  • Sorry to link to my blog, but the pic is just fitting (something I did a while back for a post):

    http://puttingonthefoil.com/wpfiles/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/tencehouse.jpg

    Feel free to stomp the hell out of me for the link (not that you need the invite). Not sure what the policy is here.

    On Peckham declining Hordichuk.. I was actually surprised on that. I mean, Hordi is a much more seasoned fighter, but I thought Peckham would go with him, since he’s gone with a couple tough guys. Did you ask him why he declined? The Oil were up 4-1… it’s pre-season and all, but perhaps Renney put a leash on him. When Stortini was asked to dance, he seemed to hesitate at first.. then after a few chirps, he dropped the gloves.

    I really wanted to see Peckham go, and I wonder if there was more to it than just plain cowardice.

  • I just don’t see how you create good vibes if you say to a player that, yes, you are good enough to play right now, but we don’t want to win this year, so we’re sending you away. As a player, you don’t think about long-term rebuilds, or when contracts are due to come up. You think in terms of trying to win in the best league in the world. If my organization is not serious about doing that, then I’d want to play for a different organization.

    Also, if you send out Paajarvi and Hall, what do you expect the fans to watch? Eberle, I suppose? That puts a tremendous amount of pressure on him that’s not there if Paajarvi and Hall to deflect some of the hype.

    The idea is good on paper, but I’m not sure it’s productive from a human perspective.

    Robin, would they make room for Omark if he’s flat-out better than, say, Cogliano or Brule? Or maybe Eberle? I don’t see where he fits in either (at least, until someone gets hurt), but will they demote one of the kids to the minors or one of the other players to the fourth line if they believe the team is better with him than without him?

    • Depends when you’re talking about making room. If Omark is better than Brule or Cogliano for a run of two weeks, do you move one of them to make room? I think not. Do you find a way to take a longer look? Sure.

      I’m not moving Brule for Omark based on a few pre-season games. Cogliano, as we all know, has been offered around before, so he’d be more likely, but that’s just my best guess.

      • rindog

        I agree with this comment you made:

        — Coming into training camp, I dismissed Linus Omark as a YouTube sensation who had no chance of making this team. I still don’t see where Omark fits, given the numbers up front, but he’s got more to his game than I gave him credit for.

        This topic was pretty much beat to death in another thread but; are some of us being naive to think that a good training camp from a guy like Omark could earn him a spot over a guy like Cogliano?

        What would Omark have to do (and Cogliano not do) for something like that to happen?

    • Rich in the Park

      Then you don’t tell them that.

      You tell them there are things we want you to work on and that we feel you’d be better off in the NHL next year.

      Based on the way the roster is right now, we can’t give you the minutes and linemates you’d need to have a productive NHL season.

      Being close to the NHL shouldn’t be good enough. Being able to contribute an NHL level game should be. Very few 18 year olds are.

      • And suppose they’re too dumb to know what is actually going on? Sounds a little overly risky in my estimation.

        No, if they continue to tear it up in the pre-season then get cut, I’m not so convinced they’ll think everything is hunky-dory.

      • So, you try the soft sell and Paajarvi, after leading the team in pre-season scoring with, say, 5-3-8 in four games, asks, “Who was better than me in the top six?” or “I got lots of minutes in pre-season. Who did enough to take those minutes away from me?” Then what?

        Or Hall says, “You think I need a fourth year in the OHL?” and asks if you’re serious about him playing for a 150 bucks a week in the OHL instead of the rookie max, including bonuses, in the NHL this year?

        Do kids have a grasp, or even care, what the big picture is when they want nothing more than to play in the NHL and have earned a spot on merit (as opposed to having one handed to them)? It’s not as cut-and-dried as you make it sound.

  • 9 Inches Uncut

    Thanks Robin. I don’t live in the market so my Oiler news comes from sites like this.

    I’ve heard the idea of kicking tires with Minnesota before regarding goalies and it just seems to me that Deslauriers is ours either in the NHL or AHL.

    I can’t see anybody else wanting or taking him.

  • Yourmomthinksimhot

    Mr. Brownlee I believe you deserve a slow clap. DT has to be one of, if not, the most arrogant “celebrity” edmonton has to offer. I think he uses twitter as a tool to convince himself of how big of a deal he “thinks” he is.

    His know it all attitude is annoying and thankfully yourself and all the employees at the team 1260, including the writers at ON provide some very thoughtful and factual insight. Its a pity that he is in a position to inform the un-informed. I could really go on and on but there is a reason I stop following him on twitter.

    I would like to also say my opinion is I find it a shame Cogliano prevents Omark from having a spot on this team. I was at the game vs. Van and it seemed like he had instant chemistry with Penner and Brule. He is the dangler, Brule the shooter and Penner the banger. I dont see what Cogliano brings to the line except speed. Omark is a better finisher and he attracts so much attention to himself allowing Brule to get open for the one timer and Penner to bang the rebound home. Going to OKC isnt the end of the world, but it dissappoints me when Cogliano starts costing other players a spot in the lineup. Let the kids play…..

    • Really?
      No media people ever asked Lowe any hard-hitting questions? You’re from the school of “I’d have given Lowe hell if I was in the press box instead of kissing ass like all those gutless reporters did” school, are you?

      Lowe got more latitude before the new CBA because he was working against a stacked deck in terms of payroll. That fact might get in the way of your premise, but’s it’s true nonetheless.

      I think the expectations of everybody changed with the new CBA and Lowe got substantially more criticism — not the ranting and raving some think was called for, but criticism — after 2005. He made a bushel of contractual mistakes after the Cup run and he didn’t skip away from those untouched by the media (we didn’t sign his contract extension, the EIG did), from what I remember.