I was intrigued, curious and disappointed after watching, reading and listening to a few things Oilers related this week. Tom Renney had an interesting take on Ryan Nugent-Hopkings, the Gagner camp’s had an epic battle and a conclusion to the arena financing might take even longer to sort out.
After reading and watching what went down at city council yesterday, and then talking to some of the parties involved I’m not sure we are any closer to a resolution. I found a few things interesting though. The City is required to post the minutes of the meeting three days after, so the minutes will be up no later than Monday.
- The city put in an amendment that after the City Manager and the Katz Group agree to the framework of a funding agreement, it will then be presented to council and they vote on it. Back in May they forgot to put this in, and had to go back and change that. It is just another small step that will delay the process in my opinion.
- When asked about the $450 million price tag going up in the future, city manager Simon Farbrother said they plan on having the builder assume risk for cost over runs. So basically the builder will get $450 million. If he goes over budget they will eat the extra cost, and if they come under $450 million they keep the extra money. He said agreements like this have worked in the past, but didn’t show a specific example.
- Richard Anderson, Northlands President and CEO admitted that, like the Katz Group, they have refused to give answers/information to the city administration’s financial questions. Northlands and the Katz group don’t want to make their books public, and while they have the legal right not to disclose everything I think it causes doubt from councillors and taxpayers. Councillor Jane Batty, a traditional Northlands supporter, seemed dismayed and disappointed in Northlands after hearing this. I don’t think the Katz group or Northlands are winning any PR points.
- I spoke with Anderson on my show yesterday and he inferred that so far Northlands is in the dark about their role moving forward, and if push comes to shove they will continue to operate Rexall even when the new rink is open. I asked Anderson about the possibility of "downsizing" Rexall to 8,000-10,000 seats and he said that hasn’t been looked at yet. Edmonton needs a smaller facility, and although the new arena will have the capability to "shrink" to that size for certain events, I wonder if Edmonton wouldn’t be better off with two facilities? I know they would compete for some concerts, but isn’t competition healthy? It might not be feasible to downsize Rexall, but I’d love to see a mid-size venue in Edmonton.
- And just to clear things up the $800,000 price tag to upgrade the seats at Rexall that Northlands received approval for yesterday does not come from taxpayers. The money comes from Northlands’ budget. If Northlands wants to spend more than $750,000 they need to present it to council before getting approval. That seems a tad strange, but that’s the deal.
- It will be wonderful when this entire process is over and we see the first shovel enter the ground, but we likely won’t see that until March 2012 at the earliest. If the Oilers want to start the 2014/2015 season in the new building construction needs to start in April at the latest, but ideally in January or February of 2012.
RENNEY ON NUGENT-HOPKINS
I think Nugent-Hopkins will make the team, or at the very least he’ll play nine games before the Oilers make up their mind about keeping him. I’m sure some of you could give two squirts what I think, but I’ll bet you’d love to hear from the guy who will make that decision. Renney said this on the TEAM 1260 on Tuesday.
"I think if a player warrants that opportunity to start the season with your team, it is pretty much a game at a time for everybody. That’s why you carry 23 people, an end of the bench and a pressbox. If the player is not able to measure up, I’m not going to be the guy that stands in the way of a young fella who could be playing an awful lot of hockey at the junior level by putting him in the pressbox because I don’t think he is ready.
"If he is going to start the season with us and play nine games, you can be rest-assured that if he has done his work and we do our due diligence with developing him then he will play ten and beyond. You can’t play him 40 games and play him 8-10 minutes and expect him to be what you want; that is a diminishing return.
"The bottom line is we have to make a sensible decision on a player like him to make sure that if he stays with us, he will play and not be a spectator. If you look at last year, our young guys played and they needed to. It wasn’t a case of protecting them by not putting them on the ice to do certain things. I think that is where Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi were strong enough to deal with the rigors of the NHL.
"The great question for Ryan, because it appears to me at least and that’s without having seen him at training camp, is that he can certainly navigate his way through a hockey game with his intelligence and his hockey sense and what is intuitive to him, but the great question will be can he handle it physically."
I can’t wait to see how Nugent-Hopkins looks at the rookie tournament from Sept 11th-15th, because last year it was clear that Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi were in a different class than pretty much every rookie in the tournament. I suspect we will see the same from the former Red Deer Rebel this year.
GAGNER BATTLE RAGES ON
I can’t add much more to the Gagner debate that Brownlee, Lowetide and many of you haven’t already written, but I do find it interesting when people pull out comparables they use guys like Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Marty St. Louis and some other top-end centres.
I understand that you are trying to prove that many of them took a few years before they became above 60+ point players, but what about the guys who have yet to pan out, if ever. I’m all for being positive, but if you think it is possible that Gagner could develop on the same path as them, isn’t it possible he might struggle like Gilbert Brule, Alex Steen, Kyle Chipchura, Rostislav Olesz, Martin Hanzel, Kyle Turris, Peter Mueller or other recent first-rounders?
Gagner needs to take a big step this season, or his window of opportunity to play in key situations will shrink with Nugent-Hopkins nipping at his heels. I hope Gagner takes his game to the next level, but I think he needs to take that step this season.
GAGNER EQUAL TO DUBINSKY
The Rangers and Brandon Dubinsky avoided arbitration today and agreed to a four-year deal that will pay him an averaged of $4.2 million/season. Do you think Gagner is worth $4.2 million? If you don’t think so, then compare their stats. Dubinsky is three years older.
YEAR GP G A PTS +/-
2008: 79 13 36 49 -21
2009: 76 16 25 41 -1
2010: 68 15 26 41 -8
2011: 68 15 27 42 -17
TOTAL…. 291 59 114 173 -47
YEAR GP G A PTS +/-
2008: 82 14 26 40 8
2009: 82 13 28 41 -6
2010: 69 20 24 44 9
2011: 77 24 30 54 -3
Total… 316 71 108 179 +8