Follow the Money

This is Anton Lander. The Edmonton Oilers have been waiting patiently for him to mature and prove himself at the highest levels. That accomplished, he will very likely receive strong consideration for a job on the NHL team this fall.

Like many Oiler fans I’ve been scouring the UFA list in search of a Brooks Laich to solve a problem on the big league roster. History tells us Edmonton is unlikely to acquire the top level free agents, and when they do the contract is an overpay and miles too long.

I think we’re seeing "business as usual" from Steve Tambellini this spring and that will probably give way to an even younger roster come the fall. We entered the spring discussing Ryan Jones and his possible signing, but the contracts that have been handed out are to young drafted prospects about to embark on their North American pro careers, minor leaguers hoping to cash in on a strong 10-11 season, and NCAA kids.


Steve Tambellini and company have been active acquiring talent for the pro teams this spring. The contracts can tell you a lot: for instance, both Taylor Fedun and Tanner House below received nice bonus money and in the case of House a very good AHL salary. It’s a kind of tell about how much value the organization places on the player, and sometimes offers a hint that other teams may have been interested in the player. Here’s the list and projected role in the organization:

  • March 8: D Tayler Fedun is signed from Princeton (NCAA). Puck mover gets a 2-year deal and is extremely likely to be part of the 11-12 OKC Barons. ($782,500 times 2 for NHL; $67,500 for AHL and $90,000 signing bonus for each season. They wanted him and gave out a nice contract).
  • March 19: C Tanner House is signed from Maine (NCAA). House is the first of several recently signed prospects with a chance to play in the NHL in 2011-12. Why? He’s described as a 2-way C who has FO skills and he adapted quickly to AHL level competition. A name to keep in mind, he probably starts in OKC but his resume matches an enormous team need. ($600,000 times 2 for NHL; $105,000 times 2 for AHL and a $100,000 signing bonus. They wanted him, too).
  • March 30: G Olivier Roy is signed from Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL). The first draft pick signed this spring, Roy will probably spend time in both the ECHL and OKC in the coming season. The organization is apparently in search of at least one AHL option, but with Nikolai Khabibulin on the NHL roster an injury may not be far way. ($595,000 times three on an entry level NHL deal; $65,000 AHL and $50,000 times 3 for the signing bonus. Standard entry level deal).
  • March 31: L Hunter Tremblay is signed from New Brunswick (CIS). Tremblay is a talented forward and more mature than a lot of kids who’ll come to camp. He’s probably slotted as an AHL only player, but it will be interesting to see if he can establish himself quickly in the minors. ($565,000 times 1 for NHL; $65,000 for AHL and a $40,000 signing bonus).
  • April 1: C Mark Arcobello is signed from the OKC Barons (AHL). Showed well after a callup from Stockton, he certainly looks AHL only but signed a pretty rich contract if that’s the case. ($615,000 times 2 years; $65,000 for AHL and a $90,000 times 2 signing bonus).
  • April 13: R Tyler Pitlick is signed from Medicine Hat (WHL). Organization is extremely high on him, but a full AHL season is very likely for Pitlick. ($865,000 times 3 for entry level; $67,500 for AHL and $90,000 times three for signing bonus. I believe these contracts write themselves based on the current CBA, it’s all about where you go in the draft).
  • April 18: L Curtis Hamilton is signed from Saskatoon (WHL). Hamilton is (along with Pitlick and Marincin) highly regarded by the Oilers and will be a featured player in OKC. (Hamilton’s contract is a little unusual; it’s a three year entry level deal, but the salary increases by year: $715,000; $790,000 and $900,000. His cap hit is $80,000 less than Pitlick, though which falls in with draft position. $67,500 for AHL and $90,000 times three for signing bonus).
  • April 21: R Cameron Abney is signed from Edmonton (WHL). Of all the kids signed this spring, Abney has the strongest chance of starting in the ECHL. He needs at-bats and fights, plus he needs to be able to learn to play at the pro level. A season in Stockton should help him. (Three year entry level deal, $580,000 times three years; $50,000 per year at AHL and $55,000 per year signing bonus).
  • April 25: D Martin Marincin is signed from Prince George (WHL). He’s probably the toughest player to project for the fall. A fast start had us thinking fast track, but he might benefit from another year in the WHL. Either way, he is a valued part of the future by the organization. (Three year entry level deal, $690,000 times 3. AHL is $67,500 and bonus is $90,000 times three. His NHL salary seems a little shy compared to Hamilton’s).
  • April 28: C Anton Lander is signed from Timra (SEL). Oilers are very high on him, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him break camp with the NHL team. Some time in OKC is likely the better plan, but the Oilers brass believes he’s NHL ready. (Three year entry level based on his draft year, 2009. $840,000 times three, $67,500 AHL deal and $90,000 times three bonus).
  1. Biggest Bonus: $100,000–Tanner House (I believe the CBA dictates the signing bonus for drafted players).
  2. Biggest Surprise: A tie: Arcobello’s contract implies there was interest from other teams. Is he more than an AHL player? Also, the difference between Hamilton’s and Marincin’s contracts doesn’t jive for me.
  3. Most Likely signing to make the jump to the big club: Anton Lander. He’s got a real chance. I think the Oilers would probably make room for him if he outplays an NHL center in camp.
  4. Best Long Shot prospect to make the Oilers this fall: Based on the bonuses, and the opportunity? Tanner House. Train hard, young man. Godspeed.
  • Mantastic

    Lander is another “character” guy. He’s also a center. Not sure how good he is on faceoffs. But, the character aspect is undisputed, in fact it’s emphasized with this guy, and this organization can use as much of that as possible, whether it’s in the AHL or on the Oilers. I’m looking forward to seeing him compete for a job in the pros, as a rookie.