Some days it sucks being a fan of a back-to-back 30th place team, okay most days it does. You keep wanting, hoping and praying that your team will improve, but in reality you know it will be a few more years before you can actually draft one of them in your playoff draft.
I’m guessing it becomes a real drag around July 1st when you know that your team likely won’t be making any significant signings, and you are destined to watch another season without playoffs.
Don’t expect the Oilers to make any significant moves in free agency, but when you look at the list of available candidates maybe you should smile that your GM, Steve Tambellini, isn’t planning on overpaying anyone.
This year’s crop of UFAs isn’t very good.
You might be able to find a solid 4th line guy, and we all know the Oilers could use a solid 4th line centre, but outside of Brad Richards there aren’t any big-name forwards. There are some guys who will have an impact, but the "star" factor is lacking this July.
There are a few others, but these will get some interest. Many of them would help the Oilers, but how many will they likely pursue. I’d look at Kennedy, Leino, Konopka, Upshall, Fiddler, Belanger, Nichol and maybe even Mair. They would all be an upgrade over Colin Fraser and JF Jacques at this point, but realistically I think Upshall and Leino will garner lots of interest and will likely go to a contender or stay in PHI and CBJ.
I think Kennedy would be a good pick up. He has averaged just over 16 goals and 35 points the past three years and it sounds like the Penguins didn’t want to go to arbitration with him, so they let him go. He’ll be 25 in July and could be here for many years. My only concern is his size.
It will be interesting to see if teams think Ward and Bergenheim’s surprise playoffs were just "Pisani-like" or a sign they are ready to be more consistent contributors. I like Ward, and think the Oilers should give him a call, but I’m not as high on Bergenheim.
Wisniewski and Ehrhoff will garner the most attention, and likely get overpaid. If Ericsson doesn’t re-sign with Detroit before Friday, he’ll be getting many calls as well. He is only 27 and some scouts think that if given more responsibility he will flourish. He is big, fairly mobile and is a decent puck mover.
I’ve already stated the Oilers should look at Montador. He is 31, has been an even or plus player for the past six seasons, and he’s had four consecutive 20+point seasons. He has a physical element to his game as well. He can’t fight like Vandermeer, but he is physical. He reminds me of Staios, but younger; a guy who plays hard every night, will block shots and be physical.
If the Oilers don’t re-sign Vandermeer, and it seems 50/50 right now, then who on that list can replace his physical play. The Oilers can’t have all puckmovers and Theo Peckham, they need some element of toughness in their lineup. O’Brien found his game in Nashville. He was in better shape, stopped taking stupid penalties and still played aggressive. He won’t fight that often, but he is a bit of an agitator.
He’d be a risky signing because he only showed that consistency for one season, but I might consider it.
Despite this ridiculous report the Oilers won’t be using JS Giguere and Nikolai as a tandem this season.
The Oilers aren’t in the market for an NHL goalie, due to Khabibulin’s contract, but they will need one, or possibly two, down on the farm. Martin Gerber signed in Europe and Jeff Deslauriers won’t be back. They gave Gerber a one-way deal last year, so I won’t be surprised if they go after a veteran for $500,000 again this year.
I don’t know if Osgood would agree to that, but MacDonald, Boucher, Auld or Budaj might . It seems likely that Khabibulin will spend some time on the IR, so whoever signs with the Oilers will likely get some time in the NHL.
I’m curious how teams look at Harding.
In the past three years he has started just over 50 games, but his SV% has been .905, .929 and .908 in those three years. He wants to play more, and I wonder if Florida or Phoenix will sign him and then over pay him a bit to get closer to the cap floor?
It won’t be the most intriguing free agency period for Oiler fans, but when you see the list of free agents, this isn’t the worst year to sit on the sidelines and watch teams overpay many players.