Value Added

Former Oiler Jason Smith taking care of business

This is Jason Smith. He’s a good example of the time if takes for NHL defensemen to develop. New Jersey dealt him for immediate help one trade deadline, old-timey-coach didn’t like the cut of his jib in Toronto and sent him away one other time.

When Jason Smith arrived in Edmonton he was battle-hardened, had leadership qualities, had learned to deal with injury, had a boatload of defensive talent and was willing to do damn near anything to establish himself in Edmonton. It takes time to learn NHL defense. A lot of good ones slip away to other teams in their mid-20’s.

Steve Tambellini and the Edmonton Oilers are having a nice summer. The entry draft went very well, with Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor delivering a strong draft list that includes potential Calder candidate Taylor Hall.

The club placed three veterans on waivers (Moreau, Nilsson, O’Sullivan) for the purpose of buying out their contracts only to see the Hockey Gods bless them twice (Moreau claimed by the Jackets and a solid return in exchange for O’Sullivan).

The club entered free agency with a reasonable shopping list and some walking around money.

In the early hours of free agency we heard the Oilers were "in the mix" for Derek Boogaard and Manny Malhotra. These players address specific needs but the eventual pricetag was way too high, indicating Steve Tambellini backed off when the bidding got crazy.

His signing of defenseman Kurtis Foster–at a price of 1.8M times 2 years–has an excellent chance of being a value contract. He’s big, has good footspeed and can play the position. He also possesses one outstanding skill–a monster shot from the point. The Oilers are likely to send Sheldon Souray away in trade sometime this summer, so the cannon from the point from Foster means one more need is covered with this free agent signing.

Foster has a nice range of skills, has proven he can help a powerplay and be successful against softer NHL opposition; if there’s another gear there this could be a very good acquisition. We should also remember that long list of defensemen who developed late (Jason Smith, Steve Staios, others) and were available to the Oilers at less than 100 cents on the dollar. Foster could find a home in Edmonton, it’s happened before. 

No matter the outcome, it’s a solid bet.

The items remaining on the Oilers shopping list–a veteran center who can win faceoffs; an enforcer who can protect the small and inexperienced forwards; possibly a veteran 2-way winger to mentor the kids ala Fernando Pisani–are all out there and available. Some of the candidates the team might be looking at include Chris Higgins,  Eric Belanger and Zenon Konopka.

Steve Tambellini has money in his pocket for free agents, he has the lessons learned from the Phoenix Coyotes and their late summer value contracts a year ago, and he has veteran defenseman Sheldon Souray.

This is turning into a very nice summer.

UPDATE: Oilers have signed Jason Strudwick along with AHL veteran defender Richard Petiot this morning. Also, Ryan Rishaug is reporting that Sheldon Souray has been placed on waivers.

    • Jodes

      That only applies to re-entry waivers Ronaldo.

      If he gets picked up now, we’re off the hook for his entire salary, not half.

      Its only when we send him down, and he has to clear waivers to be brought back up that we would be responsible for half his salary.

      Also, due to his contract, can we now send him to the minors? I know his no trade clause has expired, but was this strictly a one way deal?

      • cambosmash

        You pay him his full salary to play in the minors on a one way deal. Maybe he can score 40 playing for Stockton this season. They can’t have him in OKC complaining to Omark about how management screwed him.

        You think if he ends up sent down he plays to get his $5.4M? Or does his pride get in the way and he sit and forgo the money? I imagine eventually someone would pick him up ala Schneider in Vancouver.

        • Jodes

          cambosmash, I know we would pay him full salary in the minors (per his contract) but I think what Ronaldo was saying that we’d be paying half his salary if he was claimed.

          • cambosmash

            Got it. Only pay half if he’s claimed on re-entry waivers if he plays in another league. Waivers don’t mean “sent down”, it just means “can be sent down”.

  • Clay

    Souray on waivers can only mean there has been zero interest from the other 29 teams. Surely, they’d trade him for a bag of pucks rather than let him go for free.

    Buying him out makes almost no sense; that’s a big empty cap hit for four years, just to get rid of a guy.

    Would they seriously bury him in the minors?

    Headscratcher.

  • Someone else brought it up in a previous thread: Any thoughts on the Oil signing Matthew Lombardi?

    Another established 50-60 pt guy, that allows Horcoff to play more of a 3C role. He also bring the speed that they’ll likely end up losing when they trade Cogliano. He may be a more established version of Cogliano, and there’s no guarantee Cogs reaches Lamnbo’s level.

  • Lowetide

    Hmmm. The Souray waiver thing might be a “well Sheldon, every team had a shot at you and declined. Are you interested in coming back?” type thing.

    Other than that, I don’t have any idea. He certainly has value as a hockey player when healthy.

    • They don’t have to call him up or anything. If he clears waivers, he’s still Oiler property, and they can keep him in the NHL, bury him, trade him, or waive him again later. I can’t see any way he’s an Oiler passed Day 2 of training camp (a la Heatley in OTT… make him do day 1 testing, then deal him).

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Didnt see that coming with Souray. Here’s to hoping that someone who didnt get Kubina @ 3.8m, Volchenkov @ 4.2m, Hamhuis @ 4.5m, Tallinder @ 3.375m or Martin at 5m, will take Souray at $5.5.

    I guess it is worth a shot. Not sure anyone bites though

    • Islander were sniffing out D… plus his cap is 5.4, but his actual salary is 4.5, so thats a benefit to teams trying to reach a false cap floor with his cap hit, but keep the actual payroll below the cap floor.

      • Yeah it was front loaded. Does make some sense when you put it in that light.

        Probably like you said better to just get rid of the contract then to have to take back something worse. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

        Sorry about your Flames buddy. My buddies in Calgary are just devastated this morning. I didnt even really even have to do the usually sparing – I could just feel the pain.

  • I was trying to say (and doing a poor job) that if he got sent down and brought back up, we’d pay half. Which should be enough for another team to grab him. Now because it’s the off season, I wasn’t sure if this is possible. I do understand that if someone claims him of waivers now, they pickup the full tab.

  • westy

    Welcome LT To the Great Gig in the Sky. I have High Hopes that you will Keep On Talking about the Sorrow, Sheep, and Comfortably Numb.

    Rest assured this is

    The Happiest Days of our Lives!!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I wasn’t big on taking Brewer back anyways. With 28 mill in cap space he won’t make it by St. Louis. We got Souray for nothing anyways… guess its fitting he goes out this way.I think this is a good move by Tambellini….there are so few teams that are willing to take the cap hit without sending something back the other way.

  • smiliegirl15

    If no one is willing to trade for Souray and get rid of some of their cap hits at the same time, I doubt anyone will want to take him without the benefit of a trade. I could see him being claimed on re-entry waiver; half is a little easier to stomach. Being passed over for our youth will certainly be humbling for him.

    I’m surprised by this move but glad to see Tambellini finally stepped up to the plate and started acting like a real GM. It took him long enough; I am cautiously optimistic this season.

  • With all the talk of Eric Belanger, I seem to recall him being somewhat of a “negative nancy”. Now I don’t know if that means he’s a “debbie downer” and brings other guys down, or if its more of a self-depricating thing. Pretty sure it came from Mike Russo… I’ll see if I can find it.

  • RLH

    You need a catchy bio-esque line at the bottom of your articles, LT. Brings the whole thing together and warns us that sometimes excellent and sometimes inane (aka, Deep Oil) comments are near at hand.

    …And, nice article.

  • Hey Wanye/Bingofuel/SKYNET/whoever,

    Can we get LT added to the Voices of the Nation author filter PDQ? Frankly, all the gaudy photoshop and Google images on some of the other authors’ posts are a bit too ostentatious for my (boss’) liking.

  • Well LT… let’s give this ‘Oilernation’ site a shot. Hope they are paying you a ridiculous sum to add your skills to the group. Upon early analysis it would appear as though they need you badly. Good luck.

  • Oiler Country

    Lowetide! Nice to see you here! Just wanted to welcome you to my eyes. Wait a sec…that sounds kinda…funny. Not that there is anything wrong with that..

    *gulp*