Looking To Next Summer

It’s still early, but a few Oilers players with expiring contracts this summer are already giving us a good indication of how the organization might deal with them when the season comes to a close.

Jim Vandermeer – $2.3 million, UFA. I’ve come around on Vandermeer after some initial scepticism, because his play has improved from the start of the season. Lowetide pointed out this morning that Vandermeer’s best stretch this season came right before his latest injury, but those injuries are a major concern. More concerning for Vandermeer is the fact that the Oilers have some pressure building up within the system – Jeff Petry, Taylor Chorney and Alex Plante could all legitimately contend for an NHL job next season. If Vandermeer comes cheaply enough there’s a chance he could fit into the Jason Strudwick role (I’d be a fan of that, myself) but I suspect he’ll get squeezed out.

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Ladislav Smid – $1.3 million, RFA. I like Smid. The Oilers rushed him into the NHL too early, but he’s developed the last few years and I’m confident there’s a second-pairing NHL defenceman in there. The only question is when that player is going to show himself; Smid’s been passed in terms of even-strength ice-time this season by Theo Peckham and that simply shouldn’t be happening. Do the Oilers bet on his potential or give him another short, low-money deal? Either could happen.

Jeff Deslauriers – $1.05 million, UFA. After years of investment in Deslauriers, he’s fallen well behind Devan Dubnyk in terms of performance, and he can’t keep up with Martin Gerber in Oklahoma City (0.916 SV% vs. 0.888 SV%). After fearing to risk him on the waiver wire early in the year, I doubt the Oilers will even offer him a contract this summer.

Andrew Cogliano – $1.0 million, RFA. I was optimistic coming into this season that Andrew Cogliano would find a role under Tom Renney after being lost under Pat Quinn. With just eight points in 31 games despite frequent stretches with top-six ice-time, that optimism is gone. Cogliano’s always been a streaky player, and at some point he’ll start scoring for a while, but he can’t seem to do it on a steady basis and four seasons into his NHL career his defensive game is still chaos. If the Oilers do re-sign him, it will be on a dirt-cheap contract, but I think it’s more likely that he’ll be sent out the door, barring a miraculous turnaround.

Ryan Jones – $975,000, UFA. After barely surviving training camp, Jones has looked like one of the few solid pieces in the Oilers’ bottom-six. I don’t think he’s worth seven figures but at the right price there’s no reason he shouldn’t be back.

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Taylor Chorney – $941,667, RFA. This is the last year in Chorney’s entry-level contract. At every stage, he’s been put in the deep end – forced to play AHL minutes he couldn’t handle, and then elevated to the NHL out of need. It’s no surprised that his plus/minus over the last few years has looked like a golfer’s wet dream. Now, at 23, he’s putting in solid minutes in the AHL. I don’t know if he has an NHL future, but I think he’s worth at least a two-way contract, and he’s still young enough to surprise.

Jason Strudwick – $725,000, UFA. He’s done.

Zack Stortini – $700,000, RFA. I’ve turned into a fan of Stortini after initially disliking his play, but Tom Renney clearly doesn’t have the same feelings. Stortini only plays in two-thirds of games, and when he does play his minutes are carefully limited. He has just two assists through 21 games so far. I’d like to see him back on another low-dollars contract, but I’m forced to wonder if he’s in trouble here.

Ryan O’Marra – $700,000, RFA. O’Marra’s having easily his most successful AHL season, and does fit need for the Edmonton Oilers. I imagine he’ll get a two-way contract this summer.

Jean-Francois Jacques – $615,000, RFA. Have the Oilers finally lost patience with “Crazy Train?” His scoring touch, which made him a relatively attractive prospect at certain points in his career, has disappeared entirely, and he seems like one of those guys who is going to have serious injury concerns every season. I think he gets let go this summer.

Theo Peckham – $550,000, RFA. Teddy Peckman needed to make a statement this season or risk getting lost in the crowd of emerging young Oilers’ defencemen. He’s done it, and he’s now at the point where he’s playing top-four minutes for the Oilers. He must be in the plans.

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Liam Reddox – $550,000, RFA. ‘Tweener is putting in a solid performance in the AHL; he’s exactly the kind of call-up option that every team needs.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Outside of Struds and Vandermeer I don’t know that the decisions on the others can be made yet.

    JDD for instance, maybe he does well enough to get a two-way to start in OKC next year? Or do we go with Gerber again?

    Jacques if sent down might turn out to be a solid piece in OKC and could be worthy of a two-way deal.

  • CRAZY STANDINGS . It almost appears as though the Western Conference 15th place finisher this season may have as many points, or close to it as the Eastern Conference 8th-10 the place finisher by seasons end .

    Should the league consider a type of crossover for playoff format if this should happen , or even a wild card type format ?

  • Will Plante make our present defence stronger and better ? Should he not be bought up to meld with present rookie crop ?

    I forsaw Oilers best lineup as being perhaps a four line offensive system this season , and we are starting to get close to that reality . Reddox might be a good fit with Jones and O’Marra as a fourth line combo ?

  • Ender

    A few people here (important and informed ones) have mentioned that they expect Cogliano to be traded before long. At the start of the season, I really thought so too; that’s why in Brownlee’s Lucky 13 I included Omark on my forward list instead of Cogs. Now, though? Well, not having Cogs in the Lucky 13 is still looking like a good plan, but I don’t know about the trade thing. Playing on a low-ball contract that expires this summer, I really expected Cogliano to put on a clinic this season. That he is underperforming to the degree that he has means that he either can’t or won’t be what the Oilers need him to be, which seems to be a 3C that can operate on the PK. With the motivation he’s facing, I’m going with can’t, and I’m sure the other 29 GM’s in the league will too. Trade Cogliano? At this point, well, he might not quite clear waivers yet but he’s not far off that mark. His trade value now is nowhere near what it was two months ago. Getting him to improve enough to be of any real value by the trade deadline is looking to be a long shot. My guess at this point is that Cogliano is more likely to be an extra forward for a lot of games this season or even waived before he gets traded. $1M contract aside, I think the Oilers have his current actual value estimated far too high.

    On Reddox, man, talk about always the bridesmaid, never the bride. I’ve liked him for 2 or 3 years now, but it was pretty hard to stand up and sing the guy’s praises after the brutal showing he put up in Springfield last season. This year he’s finally doing everything that anyone could expect of him in the AHL, and he still has no real window to get a shot at a permanent roster spot. The guy can catch the hell out of a bouquet, but he can’t seem to find a wedding ring with a metal detector. At this point, I think Rudy’s chances of ever being an Oiler (outside of a couple games as an emergency call-up) are almost non-existant. It’s like the scenario where you’re seeing the really hot girl for like 6 months but you still haven’t got physical. Past a certain point, you will never be anything more than her friend. I think that’s where the Oilers are with Reddox. They like him, but he never turned them on enough when it counted for them to take him seriously and now he’ll always just be the fall-back for when Mr. Right turns out to be a jerk or gets sick on office party night. A shame, because I’m pretty sure Reddox could be every bit as sexy as Jones given the opportunity with a fresh set of eyes now.

    • While you say the Oilers and most of us fans have over valued cogliano, I think your grossly underestimating it. He’s exactly the type of player clubs stuggling for offence… with little cap room are going after. I’m deffinatly not saying we’ll ever see anything in terms of a top 6 forward or even top 3 defence coming back… but at this point all i’d be looking for is bottom 6 help. I think you’d have callers if you put up the for sale sign on that kid… which i’d be ok with.

      Maybe if reddox grew his hair out? Can you imagine the flowing red locks… yah no…. even with that he’s always going to be in the friend zone.

      EDIT: Yah and as much as I actually dislike cogliano.. see my “goat”, theres no way… not even possible… that he gets dressed as an extra forward this season.

      • Ender

        Maybe I was unclear when I said I foresaw Cogliano as an ‘extra forward’ for games in the New Year. I don’t see him dressing and sitting on the bench as an extra forward; I see him as a 13th forward, watching from the press box as Omark takes over the last ‘small-forward’ position available on the roster.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Just doing some looking, but Liam Reddox will be 25 in January and won’t have 80 games under his belt unless he plays 24 this year. That makes him a UFA Group 6.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Trade Cogs, he must go,hemsky or omark ?, Then i prefer a Omark trade,i think hes gonna produce big before horc anf hemsky is back and their we have most value for a big c or a big d, hemsky is a injuryprob on the trademarket.

    We are overloaded with good wingers, we cant make a C of taylor hall hes like a nonstopping train.


  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    So do you think Renney really doesn’t like Storts? Or is it just a case of not enough ice time, and wanting to keep the young/new guys out as much as possible, to get a better look? I’d be really disappointed to see him go, after last year when most nights he was the only player on the ice who seemed to care. We need more of that around the team.