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? 

  • by the way i’m not saying that they need a ton of more veterans on this team I agree with Lowetide I think they’ve done enough except for getting one more center. That would give the Oilers options if Brule and Gagner struggle with being pivots this season.

  • @Lowetide:

    Wouldn’t hurt to invite some guys, I suppose, but we’ll definitely have to send some packing or try to send them through waivers. I suppose that wouldn’t be so bad at all (would bolster the OKC team, which would be very nice), and I do like Jay McKee though.

    However, I think by Tambellini’s comment earlier, it sounds like the Oilers will just go with what they have here.

    A shutdown d-man and another PK/faceoff center have been needs I’ve been going on about for a couple of years now though, so it would be nice to see.. I just don’t see Tambellini going for it 🙁

  • Ender

    Ashley has hit it on the head. We have all the guys we need to accomplish this year’s mission which is to get another decent draft pick, get the kids some experience in the bigs, and (if the hockey gods smile and reward the kids for being better than expected) maybe treat us to a playoff game or four for the first time in years.

    Guys like Bill Guerin accomplish none of those things. Bill will get about $2M this year. His role on whatever team he goes to will be to supply secondary scoring and to show that team’s one or two rookies what it takes to win in the post-season. We don’t need him for that here. The $2M could be far better spent (if it needs to be spent at all), any gain from his scoring would be offset by the ice-time he used to get it that he took from rookies, and simply getting to the post-season would be the only lesson we need for this year’s young guns.

    Billy was a good soldier for the Oil, but his time here is not now. Likewise for most other experienced free agents still available out there. I wasn’t sad when Torres signed for $1M with the team that’s going to be beating up on us 5/6 times this year. We didn’t need him. The plan is set. The shopping cart contains (most of) what was on the list when we walked into the store. We’re still looking to replace the cracked jar of Dijon Souray mustard with a plastic bottle of Heinz (where do they hide that stuff?) but other than that it’s time to make our way to the check-out counter. Leave the expensive impulse items on the shelf where they belong.

    • Deep Oil

      Based on teams walking away from arbitration results, many bottom 6 UFA’s finding out that their services are not needed at pricing over $1mm.

      Your $2mm estimation is in the no fly zone according to GM’s actions this summer, based on Guerin’s age.

      Take a look at the desperation to maintain a foot in the nhl with Pisani ($500k), after taxes, Fernando has to move his family to CHI,
      for $250K to stay in the league, rather than Europe, as the KHL is not a reasonable option for a Canadian family.

      Garth Snow is protecting himself with bonuses on Dougie Weight, only for selfish reasons to reach the floor. Numbers to come out with the Islanders after league approval next week.

      Guerin can take $900k after the season starts
      to a team that is still evaluating their needs, or retire.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      From a different angle:

      What if we have a miricle run like we had when Gagner/Cogs/Nilsson were lighting the lamp a few years ago and we end up on 2-3 points out of a PO spot.

      At that point it would look pretty silly to have saved that 2 million $$ When it might have been enough to push the team into the PO, generate 2-3 home gates and get the rookies some experience in the second season.

      • Ender

        Fair comment, but I don’t mind how it actually came down. The rookies tried on their own and failed. Hopefully they learned something from that, like perhaps that the 20 games in December-January are just as important as the 20 in March-April. I think having a Billy Guerin get them in would have been a fun experience for them, but I don’t know if it would have taught them what I want Hall/Eberle/Pääjärvi/Gagne/Cogs to learn; that is, that they can (and must) carry this team on their own without expensive free agent help.

  • Librarian Mike

    Other than a trade for Souray resolve , i think Tams has clearly said they have plenty enough already player wise for next season . At least i thought he made that clear . I don’t forsee any invites, if he feels were overstaffed already, and plenty on farm to still bring up for evaluation .

  • smiliegirl15

    Thanks Crackenbury.

    I met Jason Strudwick on Wednesday; what a nice guy! I can imagine he would be great in the room. He’s got a real calm about him.

    • Crackenbury

      I’ve never met Strudwick, but I’ve heard from many sources that he is a good guy. He must be, nothing else explains his longevity in the NHL.

      I’m not sure he is a luxury the Oilers can afford. On one hand, he brings a positive attitude and presence to the dressing room. On the other hand, the Oilers are fairly thin at defence in the event of injuries.

      I think it says a lot about how dysfunctional that dressing room has been for a couple of years if the Oilers have Strudwick as part of their starting lineup.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I’m not sure about the urge in the Oilogosphere to pick up more free agents this offseason. To be frank, I don’t really understand it. It seems like we all want to play GM and tinker with this team as if we have a Stanley contender on our hands. If anything, I think the Oilers have signed too many FA this offseason, especially Mac and Strudwick. Ice time is precious. We are not going to be competing for Stanley this year (or next, and probably not the year after either), so we need to use our ice time carefully to evaluate existing contracted players and give time to youngsters to feel and learn the pro NHL game. Signing a 30-something veteran is a waste of that valuable commodity during our rebuild. If we’re competing for Stanley, sure, let the kids and auditions wait, and sign some crusty faceoff/pk/stay-at-home D/puck-moving D or whatever. But not now. It’s time to give the kids in the system a shot to see what they can do. However, my mind is open. How would signing a couple of veterans help this team in full rebuild (outside of mentership of which I think the current contracts provide plenty of)?

    • basically it’s not to win lord stanley’s cup. They want veterans on short 1-2 year deals to help shield the kids from having to play against elite level players. Hall, MPS, and Eberle will be stifled and frustrated if they have to face guys like Duncan Keith, Seabrook, Pronger, Doughty, etc. on a constant basis. It’s not about winning so much as allowing the kids to find their footing, developing the basic knowledge about how to survive and then thrive in this league before tossing them in the shark tank.

      The only reason to be pissed about veteran signings is if the contracts are in the Horcoff area, term deals that are 3+ years.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I wonder if a few guys get camp invites and get spots based on what the kids do. But adding a guy like McKee where does that leave Strudwick?

    As far as Matheson and his one year deals, I don’t believe a word he says anymore so I’ll take his statement with a grain of salt.

  • Crackenbury

    It looks like the plan for the Oilers, and a lot of other teams as well, this year is to see how the cheaper young guys do at camp and then sign the known commodities like McKee after that if needed.

  • Crackenbury

    RFA’s don’t hold out in todays NHL. Gagner and Cogliano will both be back, it’s just a matter of length of term. Another team can sign them to a longer term deal, but the Oilers have the right to match which they undoubtedly would do.

    No worries here. I like the fact ST isn’t handing over the franchise to players that haven’t even remotely established themselves as bona fide premier NHL players.

  • gr8one

    I didn’t know McKee was still out there and available … and only 32 years old.

    I say, yes, definitely invite him to camp. Is he not an example of what the Oilers need right now on the blueline – stay-at-home size and toughness?

    Disclaimer: I have not seen Jay McKee play very much over the past few years and I have no idea if he’s any good. But it’s my understanding that he’s still consider a solid player, no?

    One weird anecdote I remember about McKee: In whatever year he was drafted, Bob McKenzie talked about McKee’s wingspan. Apparently, McKee has unusually-long arms – maybe an inch or so longer than someone his size would have had. I had no idea Central Scouting (and Bob McKenzie) were that thorough, but that was something that stuck with me ever since.

    Anyway, I say invite the extra-long-armed freak to camp, already!

  • smiliegirl15

    I dunno, I think the Oilers would be better off taking a flyer on someone like Paul Mara or, like Manfly said, Krajicek than McKee. McKee seems to offer a lot of the same as what Smid, Vandermeer, and, to a lesser extent, Strudwick and Peckham offer as stay-at-home types, whereas a guy like Mara or Krajicek can go both ways (hehe, I said “go both ways.” Like a bisexual). Plus, I think Andreas Lilja is better at that job than McKee these days, and he’s still out there too.

  • gr8one

    Oh, and I’m just as frustrated as the next guy and really want to see some things happening, especially Cogs/Gags getting signed, but when it comes to Tambi not doing much else at this time, I believe it’s prudent to be patient.

    Right now there are three(4 if Devils sign Kovy)teams over the cap, and another four right up against it that will need breathing room.

    That means as the summer shakes out and it becomes necessary for these teams to trim the fat to become cap compliant, there are going to be some very good players become available to teams that have some wiggle room like we do.

    Tambi is in a very good position right now to take advantage of that.

  • smiliegirl15

    I have a question – I don’t know how it works and I haven’t looked it up; I rely on the knowledge floating around here for my hockey education (silly me). Besides, clarity from some of you, happens often.

    If Cogliano and Gagner don’t sign contracts, what happens to them? They are restricted free agents so unless another team puts in an offer sheet for them, they are still property of the Oilers, correct? If they choose not to sign do they sit out?

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Adding more fuel to the fire . RED FLAGS GOING UP ? Matheson of the Journal column says …” As contract talks drag on(Gags and Cogs ) …. looks more and more likely ..they might sign one year contracts “. I repeat, might? Something about that statement thats sounds ominous . Ahhh ,what kind of committment from both sides , is that supposed to mean ? Are they putting one another on a one year probationary period ?

      Add that to Souray resolve problems , and one wonders just where club is trying to go with rebuild ?

      I would have thought their was going to be more of a committment from players and management than a one year contract .