Track Record: Acquiring Players Outside The Draft

I think it is fair to say that the majority of Oilers fans have been thrilled with the team’s performance at the draft table. Taylor Hall might be the headliner, but the ensemble of young players the Oilers have collected the last few years stacks up well against most anyone in the league.

Away from the draft table, the results have been less impressive. A glance at the Oilers roster reveals an assortment of players acquired by other means, and for the most part it is not a list that inspires one with confidence.

I have limited the list of players under consideration to those who have spent some time in the NHL.

The Unrestricted Free Agents

Player 2010-11 Cap Hit
Jim Vandermeer 2,300,000
Jason Strudwick 725,000
Steve MacIntyre 500,000
Martin Gerber 500,000

Four players on this list, and none of them really matter. The two best are Jim Vandermeer – a seventh defenseman paid to be much more than that last year – and Martin Gerber, a competent backup who handled the third-stringer role with aplomb. Beyond that, Jason Strudwick should not have been retained last season, while Steve MacIntyre is a superb heavyweight without any other NHL-level qualities.

The Expensive Guys

Player 2011-12 Cap Hit
Ryan Smyth 6,250,000
Sheldon Souray 5,400,000
Tom Gilbert 4,000,000
Ryan Whitney 4,000,000
Nikolai Khabibulin 3,750,000

As one would expect from a group of highly-salaried players, there is some talent here, but none of these guys represents a slam dunk in terms of value.

I approve completely of the Ryan Smyth reacquisition. His cap hit is a little on the high side for what he’s likely to bring to the table next year, but given where the Oilers are and the fact that he will undoubtedly be looking for less money in the summer, this isn’t a big deal.

Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney are both valuable defensemen, though not without flaws. Many have questioned whether Gilbert provides value for the money (I tend to think that he’s slightly overpaid, but not by an outrageous margin), while Whitney had a great year but his injury woes remain a concern.

Sheldon Souray spent last season in the minors. If on-ice play were the only factor that really mattered, than Nikolai Khabibulin would have, too. Both contracts are disastrous at this point.

The Less Expensive Guys

Player 2011-12 Cap Hit
Gilbert Brule 1,850,000
Kurtis Foster 1,800,000
Ryan Jones 1,500,000
Ladislav Smid RFA
Ryan O’Marra RFA

The Oilers tried to trade Brule to the Los Angeles Kings so that the latter team could buy him out. Kurtis Foster struggled to stay in the line-up. The Ryan Jones contract is popular at the moment, but he’s a fourth line player getting paid $1.5 million. I’m more than a little surprised that Ryan O’Marra got a qualifying offer while Kevin Montgomery did not.

On the plus side, Ladislav Smid is a capable NHL defenseman who does not seem to be on the verge of being overpaid.

The Problem

At some point, the Edmonton Oilers will try to start winning games again. Possibly even as early as this season. When that happens, there will be holes that the draft has not, and cannot (with any urgency) fill. Those holes will need to be filled via free agency or trade.

That means the Oilers need to improve in this department.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Shouldn’t we be trading for 1st round draft picks in next years draft?

    If the 2012 draft speculations are true their may be up to 15 first round quality D-men.

    If we could pick up another first round pick in 2012 , this would give us many prospects and give us a better chance at acquiring players outside the draft.

    To me LA is in this position now, they have a lot of leverage.
    We do not have as many movable parts yet.

    • D-Man

      Chances are we’ll have a top 5 pick in the 2012 draft to begin with.. Even with a couple FA’s added – I can’t see us finishing any better than 25th overall…

      The only bait you’ll have at this year’s trade deadline will be Hemsky or Whitney – assuming they’re healthy… Both would fetch another first round draft pick, but you’d be trading them to a team in playoff contention – meaning another 20 to 30 pick overall…

      Now we might be forced to deal Hemsky should he have no inclination to sign an extension; but that will most likely push the rebuild another year. Hall and Eberle will have improved, but not enough to cover the production you lose from Hemsky…

      In short, I think you try to sign Hemmer to a $5.5 million/year, 3 year extension and focus on improving the prospects we have… If the prospects we have now haven’t pushed us to a playoff spot by the 2012-13 season, Katz will definitely have to flush out the current management team and start over…

  • BarryS

    So the question is, if Fraser really is injured, who was hiding the injury? The team or the player? Hockey history says the player. So did Fraser just reveal the injury to keep from being bought out? Not sure how you find an internal injury unless the player complains.

    On Smid, having to over pay, if overpayment it is (there is some doubt) applies to keeping players as well as signing new ones. The old devil you know gambit applies here I think.

    With a few exceptions every free agent has some serious flaw in their game, or why would a team let them go.

  • MaestroFreshMess

    These salaries are ludicrous. Bieksa is way overpaid. Eirhoff wants 6 million per long term. I give it 3 years before teams are trying to dump these brutal contracts.

    The owners got duped into another stupid CBA. the salary floor is ridiculous.

    If the revenues are increasing every year why don’t they lower ticket prices? Fans are stakeholders too.

    I attended over a dozen games 2 seasons ago and watched some of the worst hockey I’ve ever seen. The final straw for me was when they shrunk the size of the beers.

    It’s just not worth the price of going anymore IMO. There are obviously tens of thousands of people who don’t see it the way I do.

    • BarryS

      Hockey is a luxury item and the only value luxury items have is what fools pay for them. Thousands for a clear shiny rock makes no sense at all, nor a lump of shiny yellow metal just to look at either.

  • To me this contract would be kinda like giving big Mac a 2 year 1.25+ mill contract because he is a good fighter. Over the last 5 years there really hasn’t been much change in Smid’s game. I think it might look like there has because the team as a whole has been getting worse every season. I just don’t see him being more than a 5-6 d-man unless he makes a good jump in development this year. If he can start putting up more points then I think he would be much more valuable. But if it just defensive game and toughness well we have other guys in the minors that can provide that.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      So it’s official, the Oilers have officially closed the book and quit on a player.

      We can put that trophy right next to the one earned last year.

      • fuck off

        I was hoping they would at least keep him around to try to trade for anything or nothing (7th rounder) to Fla whoever else is struggling to reach the cap floor. Of course that would have required ST waiting until after the FA Frenzy subsided and I don’t think there’s a gaurnteed buy out time availabe after today.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          Have to think a team like the Red Wings give him a shot in the fall. A fresh new start on a decent team could help get him established again. Watch him pot 30-40 pts next season.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            I’m think that a lot of teams might now want to make an offer until they see him at training camp but you never know. Noone will claim him because they no as a free agent he will sign for a lot less. Barker will likely be the same. I would like to see the Oiler offer Barker a 1 or 2 year deal for around the 2 mill mark. Maybe they get lucky and he turns out to fit really well with the Oil. That and he is only 25.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F


            You just finished talking about what a horrible deal Smid was and now you want the Oilers to offer 2 million to a guy that was just bought out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Its a risk I’d be willing to take, we know what we get with Smid and I don’t think he will improve too much from where he is now. I would take the chance on Barker because I think he may have more offensive up side and could turn out to fit into the system here. 1 year would be ideal and if it doesn’t work out you can always walk away.

      • Ender

        I’d say it’s the other way around; the player quit on the team. Right about the time he started running his mouth about how much management sucked and how other players couldn’t wait to leave town and had a smile on their faces at the airport. You don’t do that to your employer if you really expect to remain employed.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          One teeny weeny part of your brain Ender, must agree with him. Pre Hall,Eberle and Paajarvi. Before these three arrived on the scene, he called it, this club was a dogs breakfast….agreed? Maybe Souray did quit on this lost organization but he also did it and himself a huge favour. With the total lack of direction from the Oilers on this Smyth trade, was he really that far off?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Even at 2.25 the Oilers should be able to find a trading partner. I’d rather go with Vandermeer for 1.75. Smid needs to take a suspension or two this coming yr and build on what seems to be a pretty good reputation around the league.

  • dawgbone98

    Oilers sign Smyth seems to make sense . They then continue to let more of our physical players go (Jacques and Storts ) , while holding onto our diminutive staff for now after they had let Penner go . That doesn’t appear to make sense . Just what do they intend on doing here is still very questionable as yet ? They seem to be running a contradiction in what moves have been done up till now . Maybe they plan on running at least 3 more rookies for this year that show some progress like Vandevelde , Hartekainen ,etc.?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Obviously, Khabby had a bad year. But before we complete write him off, I have to remind everyone that he was coming off back surgery the year before. When you get to your mid-30’s, it takes a long time to recover from injuries and surgeries, especially if you are an elite athlete. Roloson came back from a torn up knee in the Cup Finals 2006. Rollie did not have a good 2007 season, a lot of it due to him not giving his body the time it needed to recover. I remember the knives were out for him too, but he bounced back the next year and has been very good ever since.

    I don’t know if Khabby will bounce back. I don’t know if his back will continue to cause problems. But we should not assume that he cannot bounce back from last season.

  • There are 86 defensemen in the league that make more than Smid does right now, number to grow this off season. Considering that 180 represents the number of everyday playing positions open in the league (6 defensemen X 30 teams), then the Oilers are paying Smid right smack dab in the middle of that pack.

    Really nothing to get worked up about.

    • dawgbone98

      Have a look at Niskanen. Makes 1.5 and provides a lot more in my opinion. I wouldn’t have a problem with the pay if I actually thought Smid was a 3-4 dman but I don’t think he is. I think he is a 5-6 dman and therefore should fall in the bottom 33% of the pay range.

    • Crash

      Exactly…everytime the Oilers sign someone this site turns into a beehive of yelling and screaming.

      The Smid signing is ok. I agree, nothing to get worked up about.

      • John Chambers

        He deserves a few hundred K extra for taking that fist from Sean Avery.

        If I’m a GM I’m willing to give a guy a few extra bucks if he’s willing to drop the mitts.

  • book¡e

    MacKenzie Tweet “Oilers-Kings reverse deal on Smyth-Fraser b/c Fraser injury, Lombardi says Smyth will play out contract in LA or can go to minors”

    None of this is real, I am just messing with your head.

  • BarryS

    Big Bob says senior Oiler Offical says trade was “as is” and LA knew of injury and signed off on trade memo saying same. Seems LA using diversion tactics to appease unhappy fans. Either way LA not looking professional in this. Nothing like using leaks instead of formal announcement. Good of MSM using leaks as factual information.

    • The media is going to use whatever it can these days considering the Teams want to be in complete control over the info that comes out about them. Heck, the Oilers website is almost as fast at getting their info up as the “Plugged In” guys in the MSM. The Oil wont even let the Oilers Lunch program stay on 1260 anymore. The journalistas are going to fight for every scrap of info they can get and run with it or face extinction.

      As for LA in all this mess, to me it seems really douchy. It’s been from their end that all this stuff has been leaked. It’s very unproffesional IMO.

  • I still say the Oilers only make a couple UFA moves this summer. Zenon Konopka, and a defense man or two. Hedja and Vandy?

    I’m still on record saying I’d like Harding.

    The Defense will be the last thing to get a overhaul, seems the Oilers will be looking for that stud in 2012 draft.

    • I would prefer to try a Hedja and Barker. Barker is a risk for sure but if he doesn’t work out you will still 6 D to put on the ice and it would likely only cost 2 mill. And you never know Barker could become a great defensman. I think the oilers are going to need find someone that was considered crap and turn them into a gold, or at least silver.

      • D-Man

        That doesn’t make sense – especially if you’re not willing to take a risk on Smid… Barker isn’t as mean or tough and his offensive stats aren’t much better than Laddy’s…

        Why risk on something you don’t know when you can take a less risk on something you do??

        Both Hedja and Barker are also softer, positional d-men… We get run over as it is.. Vandermeer at $1.5 million would be significantly more valuable to the Oilers than Barker would – especially when you look at his performance significantly slide over the past two years.

        • Crash

          Didn’t say I wouldn’t risk Smid, I just don’t think he is a 3-4 dman. Hedja can play top pairing mins would would be nice, because right now only Whitney fits the bill. And Barker is just a ?. I think he might just be lost, has no faith in the organization and needs to rediscover himself. I would like to take the chance to see if this is the case or not. In reality however I don’t think the oilers really need to go and get a Dman. They could just go with: Petry-Whitney, Peckham-Gilbert, Foster-Smid. maybe keep Vandy as the 7th or just leave that open for AHL guys to come up for some experience. I really like Petry and will be really interested to see how he does this year. I also think Peckham is going to end up being a better defensive player than Smid and I also think at times last year he showed a good ability to jump up in the play and make things happen not to mention in one season he almost has more goals than Smid. I also think Foster is going to have a much better season but I also think he should be on the 3rd pairing and get PP1 time similar to what he did in Tampa. Gilbert might have a better offensive season with a physical force like Peckham. Whitney I hope will pickup right where he left off. And Smid is going to be our new steady Steve.

          • fuck off

            You really need to keep in mind that Smid is only 25 and not in his prime yet. Interpetation: Potential not fully tapped as of yet.

            I’ll take a moment here as well to remind everyone the old motto of this rebuild… patience.
            Maybe it has stopped being preached but it still applies and Smid still deserves his fair share of, oh say, about 2 years at 2.25 mil.

            IMO I think the 2.25 comes from what the Oilers hope for out of Smid rather than what he neccesarily already is.

          • Bucknuck

            Mad props to you sir.

            First for your name. Second for your Smid comments. I think you are right.

            He’s a big body who can skate, and he plays a gritty style and clears the crease. Smid gets a little better every year, and I think that will continue.

          • fuck off

            Thanks Bucknuck.

            To agree with your other comment as well as others; we and myself included, are expecting 3 FA additions in the next week. Hopefully the Oil get their first choices rather than back up plan B-D.

    • D-Man

      I like Harding – but we don’t need another three headed goaltender roster – and Tambo isn’t going to make himself look foolish and send Khabby to the AHL…

      I’d love Konopka and would try to sign both Hedja and Vandermeer.. Hedja would be okay with Foster and you could rotate Vandermeer in as your #7 d-man… I’m not sure Hedja would come back though… Offering him between $5 – $6 million over two years could work…

  • oilersplumber

    Just off of CNBC. Looks like the NHL may be the only major sports game in town this fall with Baseball. The NBA is being locked out. Along with the NFL, this may give some positive exposure to the NHL south of the border.

  • Souby

    Alright, I need free agent frenzy to start already. There have not been many new stories on here and I am tired of the talk about Smid’s deal. Is he overpaid by $400-$500K…an argument can be made for and against….we get it. All we can do now if hope that Smid can improve over the next 2 years so that we can look back at this signing and marvel at what a steal of a deal it was…..hopefully.

    Now, does anyone want to start some crazy rumours like say…..The Oilers are one of the mystery teams interested in Jagr (I hope not) or Steve Tambellini was able to sell Khabibulin’s contract to the Russian circus so they can use him in their high-wire act?…..Anything please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • dawgbone98

      Well Jagr wouldn’t be too bad on a one year. Lots of experience and would work but it doesn’t address the other needs like grit and toughness on the 4th line but with players that can actually play the game. We got Smyth back so I don’t see Jagr being anywhere in the cards.

      • Souby

        Now that’s a good start…nothing crazy, but some solid points. I agree that Jagr does not help us where we need it most, as in grit and toughness, which is I why I don’t want the oil to go after him.

  • Bucknuck

    Apparently the kings are pissed because Colin Frasers foot might require surgery. Cry me a river. The guy probably wouldn’t even crack their lineup. They just want to make sure everyone in the league knows that they definitely didn’t get market value for Smyth.

    I think we’ve seen our last trade with the Kings for a while…

    • BarryS

      Or else doing prep work for next one, trying to put Tambi at a disadvantage. Kings fooled themselves two trades in a row.

      Not sure the trade with Phili will work out either, must be a reason to get rid of two best players on the same day.

      Good at developing players, not so good at trading it seems.

      LA seems to do a lot of leaking of deals, not likely to make friends in the league.

  • Dan the Man

    Not sure why the Kings are upset over the Smyth deal. Isn’t it just assumed around the league that if a player played in Edmonton at anytime over the last couple of years he’s probably got some type of injury?

    Why is this surprising?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I think people are getting a little carried aways with the free agency and who the oilers should sign. Seriously some are saying sign 2 dmen, 2 centers, 1 winger and a goaltender. Change over a third of the team are you serious. Oilers are trying to build from within and while I don’t think they will get everything they need I think this many free agents is just retarded.

    Centers – maybe go after one. We now have RNH, VV, and Lander as strong upcoming center options. I believe VV could handle a 4th line role in the NHL right now. Lander and RNH however will have to wait until training camp and preseason. I have a feeling that all three of these guys could be ready for NHL competition, if that is the case I think RNH and Lander would get the positions and VV would be in OKC. This providing they find a way to trade Cogs and Brule, regardless I feel they have been passed on the depth chart.

    Wingers – I don’t think Edm needs any right now until they determine what they have. I think Harti and Giroux could fill in any gaps on the wings so I would just sit tight on any signing is this area.

    Dmen – Given the current contracts really the Oilers already have enough to be game ready. However some players they do have aren’t good enough. I’d say try and sign 1 top pairiing defenseman unless we can unload a contract say a Foster. Currently: Whitney, Gilbert, Peckham, Smid, Foster, and Petry. And there are a fair few propects in the system that could be fighting to move up the rankings.

    Goal: If they did buyout Bulin’s contract then yes look for another vet goaltender preferably to backup DD and see what happens.

    I don’t expect a lot of signings by Tambo I still think they are looking to develop as much from within as possible.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      It’s very common for teams to bring in 3+ free agents per year.

      It’s also a pipe dream to think the team is going to draft its way to a cup. All cup winners have some important pieces that were signed/traded for.

      • Bucknuck

        I think a lot of people are mentioning so many people because they want to show all the options. I would be happy if they add a D-man, a Goalie for OKC, and a Centre. 3 players, 2 on the main squad.

        • Dan the Man

          Heres a question and I truely don’t know which way I would go but. Say you sign a FA center. And then at training camp RNH comes in with an extra 15 lbs, and him and Lander really put on a good show and should be making the team. Who do you keep? Would it be better to keep RNH and let Lander play some time in OKC and mayber if their are injuries he can be called up. Or do you keep Lander and let RNH go back to Red Deer and make sure a spot is available next season.

          I can argue both ways because I honestly don’t think another year in Red Deer is going to help RNH develop very much, OKC would be a lot better but isn’t possible. I also think that time in OKC wouldn’t be a bad option for Lander either. Its a really tough call.

          • Bucknuck

            It’s a good problem to have, don’t you think? I would keep RNH on the roster and put Lander in OKC. Then, when Horcoff or Gagner inevitably gets hurt, you bring up Lander.

            I wouldn’t mind letting Lander show his stuff in OKC.

            EDIT – and Cogliano can move to the wing where he belongs IMO.

          • fuck off

            Ya that kind of situation isn’t so much a problem as it is playtime. I think I would send Lander down. He can still likely grow and if nothing else, he would get used to the North American style of play. I don’t really see any plus to having RNH in Red Deer. Ya cogs on the wing might not be too bad. Brule is going to be a tuff one. When he was healthy I really like his play and he did a good job putting up some points but all the injuries. Could be another JFJ. We should have a pool as to which Oiler gets injured first. Player has to miss more than 10 consecutive games. Brule, Horcoff, Hemsky, and Bulin seem like strong candidates.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Ya for sure.

          I think as a bare min we need a top 4 dman and a good bottom 6 center.

          A second dman, a goalie and a crash and bang winger with a little bit of offense would be great as well but probably a stretch.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Yes but I also don’t expect them to make a run for the playoffs this year. I think 3 FAs is plenty and still allows the team to develop and assess to young guys to see what they think they have for the future and what parts are still going to be missing. Loading up of FAs makes no sense when you need to get your prospects some playing time in the NHL the keep their development moving forward.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Outside of elite prospects, it should be the expectation that the develop *outside* of the NHL. When an injury arrives they get their shot.

          Also, if you look at the other tank teams that actually became contenders, they all started adding quality via trades/FA early in the re-build.

    • Dan the Man

      Wingers – I don’t think Edm needs any right now until they determine what they have. I think Harti and Giroux could fill in any gaps on the wings so I would just sit tight on any signing is this area.

      I agree that the wing isn’t the Oilers primary area of concern but as far as Giroux goes, the deal he signed last year was 1 year/$500 000 so I think he’s a UFA. I thought I read somewhere that he probably won’t be back.

  • fuck off

    @Bucknuck & Dman
    RE: Center jam

    I honestly can not see RNH being anything short of the 3rd line soft parade Center to start the season. Sure they don’t want to rush him and it’d be beneficial to maintain an extra year on his ELC but he’s a #1 pick. He’ll make the team, struggle for the first 20 games and by the end of the season have stolen a large chunk of Gagner’s ice time both 5v5 and on the PP. If the Oil get Konopka then that shifts Lander down to the defacto OKC 1C and first call after a Horcs/Konopka injury. Horcs could find himself almost obsolete by the end of this coming or the next season following. THAT would be the right development path.

    • fuck off

      You know that when I say Wiz, I’m refering to James Wisniewski and not Christian Ehrhoff, right? RIIIIIGH??

      I could care less about Ehrhoff as he isn’t a complete defender and seems to have found himself a sucker to overpay for his sub-marquee point totals.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Ehrhoff is getting a 10 year 40 mil contract.

    TSN says:

    Ehrhoff will earn $18 million in the first two years of his contract and $4 million from years three to six. He’ll collect $3 million in year seven and then $1 million in each of the remaining three years.

    Can someone tell me how this is not cap circumvention….

    • Bank Shot


      He’s gotten there twice before, and if healthy(he’s due) will have a great crack at it.

      Hall would be my second choice. He has talent, but is a wild card. His production might stay relatively the same, increase modestly, or explode. Tough to say which.

    • Bucknuck

      Healthy Hemsky (been there twice)

      Healthy Horcoff (been there once and was PPG over 50 games once)

      Healthy Hall (Yes he is that good)

      Those are the three people I think have that capability on the Oilers team. RNH, Gagner, and Eberle are behind Hall on this list, but I think they may have that capability in three years.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    I would like to see us add a top 4 dman and some grit on the fourth line. It would be nice for one of our acquisitions to do better than expected for once.