WTF? No new articles on the Nation today? We will expertly stick handle this opportunity with a real think piece on just how far the Oilers have come economically with their signing yesterday of Taylor Hall. You may not have realized it but the Oilers are officially now a Have in a league of Haves and Have Nots. 

We are just iced out with swag up here aren’t we Gucci Mane ft Souljaboy? BRRRR indeed.


Oh so long ago – say like 1996 – the Oilers had some major obstacles in being a high impact team in the NHL. Rich US teams like the Rangers and the Coyotes (yes the Coyotes) were signing players left and right and guys like Bobby Holik were making $5 million a year to occasionally find the twine.

The Oilers had plenty of of a high calibre players in those days. Players might have cringed when they heard the news that they had been traded to Edmonton, but the likes of Billy Guerin, Doug Weight, Curtis Joseph and Co were waiting for them when they finally took to the ice. It might have been cold but there was a reasonably good chance you would find success in an Oilers jersey.

But high performing players had a shelf life in a City that was battling a low Canadian Dollar, tepid corporate support and an economy that was in tatters. The three aforementioned Oilers all played great and were forced out of town for economic reasons and have stated since they would have been happy to continue to stay in Edmonton had the team been able to pay. OilersNation hearts were routinely broken in those days as part of you always knew that your current hero was going to be on his way out of town to a larger market.

Unless your current hero was Brad Winchester. Then you had a different pile of problems.


Enter Daryl Katz.

We can recall when Shawn Horcoff signed his Titanic deal. At the time many of us were happy that the Oilers were finally able to fling a flatbed truck piled high with cash at someone who we would have traditionally lost to free agency. "It sends a message to the league" went the thinking at the time, "that the Oilers aren’t the broke kid in class anymore."

No we certainly weren’t that anymore. Offers were tendered to Thomas Vanek, Marian Hossa, Dany "I am a heartless bastard" Heatley who all passed on signing in good old our town for various reasons including "Edmonton sucks" "My (wife/mistress) doesn’t want to shop there" and other nonsensical problems we all convinced ourselves were to blame.

In reality the Oilers were a crappy squadron (with a few bright spots) who couldn’t offer players in the prime of their careers any real chance of winning in the forseeable future. But Katz was there not only agreeing to throw down wads of cash at these players’ feet but also often being involved in the pitch himself – jetting around in the name of Edmonton.

And we did our part as fans too. It isn’t easy ponying up $65 to watch Patrick O’Sullivan wrist a muffin into a goalie’s crest and go sit down every other night but Oilers fans found a way to support the team regardless of the product on the ice. Sellouts every night they say – although some games we can’t help but think a bill for 1500 tickets would show up the next morning at Katz’s offices in order to keep the streak alive.

Bless his heart for finding a way to find a way.

It was at this point that Katz and the Oilers brass wisely decided that pitching woo at every UFA wasn’t going to end well. It was time to draft kids and draft em early on in the draft so that when the Oil wave tens of millions of dollars in their 21 year old faces they can’t help but say yes.


2012. New heroes, fresh whispers of a return to awesome after so many years on the outside looking in. The Alberta economy is one of the strongest in North America, if not the world. A newly strong Canadian dollar trades on par with the American eliminating a massive forex advantage for the US teams.

And thankfully our heroes are here to stay as we have seen with Taylor Hall signing a trillion dollar long term extension yesterday. Jordan Eberle is soon to follow and the Nuge was reported as clapping with glee when he heard that Taylor Hall had signed for big bucks before being put down for an afternoon nap.

No longer do we need to worry about a few strong seasons leading to a one way ticket out of town for our local heroes. Sure some team may come along with a preposterous deal that may send a key piece of the puzzle out of town but the embarassment of riches that is the forward corps aged 18-23 can be preserved for years to come and a kick ass team built around it.

We may not all realize it but the market conditions and lineup have arrived that should set up the local squadron for years to come.

Taylor Hall is set to make 42 million. As an Oiler. And there are probably 3 more guys set to get similar deals in length and cash.


      • ubermiguel

        Had to look it up:

        2007 off-season = Vanek “deal”

        June 18, 2008 = sale of the Edmonton Oilers was approved to Daryl Katz.

        July 16, 2008 = Horcoff deal at six-years $33-million.

    • geoilersgist

      Daryl Katz officially bought the team on July 2nd, 2008. Horcoff signed his deal 2 weeks later on July 16, 2008. Vanek’s offer sheet was pre-Katz though as the offer sheet came in the summer of 2007 from Kevin Lowe and EIG.

  • book¡e

    As tough as these past few seasons have been to watch, there has definitely been worse times to be a fan of the Edmonton Oilers. I can’t wait to look back at these days and laugh when we start making the playoffs and doing some serious damage. GO OILERS GO!!

  • D

    Hall (6) nuge(6) eberle(6)
    Yakupov(6) gagner(4) hemsky(5)
    I see that for a future top 6. Not terrible value.
    I see the bottom six as the spot for value deals. But the max for each position should be as follows.
    3 3 3
    1 1 1
    Defence is
    6 6
    Smid(4) petry(4)
    2.5 2.5
    Plante (1)
    This is based on a 78 million cap, and takes us right to the limits. If the nhlpa can’t find a way to get that much from the owners, then there is a proble. As you can see theres lots of room under this template to sign the kids, and go after quality UFAs. This is especially true if we can get value deals. Eg. Paajarvi or hartikainen playing 3lw for 1.5.

    • DSF

      That’s likely the most expensive top 6 in hockey…and not the best top 6.

      Kopitar 6.8

      Richards 5.7

      Carter 5.2

      Williams 3.5

      Gagne 3.5

      Brown 3.1

      And don’t forget, in your bottom 6 you still have Horcoff at 5.5

      The gift that just keeps on giving.

      • geoilersgist

        I know its expensive. I just wanted to show that we can afford to have all four, and still have good depth. By the time yak is signed, horcoff will be cheaper/gone, and hemsky will get a pay cut, or will be traded. keep in mind tho that la lucked out picking up all those guys on decent contracts, and that the players they signed themselves are probably overpaid. Also yak,eberle, nuge, and hall should all be ppg players, and at the very least, be in the 70 pt range. No other team in the league has that kind of firepower. Once they mature defensively, there will be little comparison between la’s top four and edmontons.

      • Not entirely true because no one knows how high the ceiling is for Nail Yakupov. If he returns to the pre-injury form he was at in 2011 than I’d say he’s much better than Williams, Gagne, and Brown, especially if you consider where all three of them are now in terms of ability. Hemsky is an overpay for sure and Gagner should only command that much if he is able to break the 50 point barrier consistently. Outside of Edmonton’s top 4 kids I’d say the Oilers should take on the philosophy of look and see how some of their other youngsters develop and if they can occupy spots within the top 6. If Hartikainen can find consistency and take on a role much like Tomas Holmstrom than things change. Also Paajarvi has a ways to go yet, he’s not exactly a finished product.

        Also Hemsky is only signed for 2 more years. When RNH and Yapukov have to resign Hemsky will either be gone or you’d have to think that he’d be playing at a reduced salary. Otherwise Tambellini should really lose his job. At this point only 3 players will be signed when RNH’s contract runs out. Only Hall is under contract at this point when Yakupov’s contract runs out. Almost certainly RNH and Eberle are signed when Yakupov is signed. The Oilers are actually in a pretty flexible financially when it comes to keeping their elite young talent.

      • Reg Dunlop

        Ya, that top 6 that LA assembled is quite impressive. No doubt superior to the oil top 6 in 2012. It is so unfortunate for the kings that a lockout will negate any momentum generated by the cup win, and the Lakers adding Nash and Howard returns any news or interest in hockey to the very last page of the papers. The kings once again return to irrelevance. Much like the Blackhawks, last year was a one-off. And by the way, when the oil actually have to pay their top 6 thick cash, in about 3 years, it will be laughably superior to the kings top 6. Cheers and have a pleasant evening.

      • RPG

        Looks at the ages of the players you are comparing the kids to. Kopitar 27 , Richards 27, Carter 27, Williams 30, Gagne 32 and Brown 27. The defending Stanley cup champions in their prime!
        Compared to Hall 20, Eberle 22, Yak 18, Gagner 23, Hemsky 29 RNH 19. A group of talented youth on a 29th placed team on the verge of something special, but needing to grow and mature into the stars they will become.

  • D

    The Oilers will spend the better part of 36 million moving forward on there first 2 lines in the coming years.At an average of 6 million per player. I am not saying that 6 million will be on Hemsky or Gagne. But someone may come along in FA that the Oilers like that will be looking at that kind of money. Horcoff will be non issue by then and so will Bulin and Souray and guys like Eager and Whitney. Good freaking diety if Tambo gives Whitney another 5 million. I will have even more grey hair if he does that. Either way the new Arena will bring in the needed revenue for the team. At 18500 it should be able to pay the bills.We hope.

    • Nylander should probably replace Vanek. Vanek actually did sign here, his team just wouldnt let him go. So unless the Sabres just said “we’re matching because we hate those cold as hell canadian buggers!” and we can add the Sabres to the list too then Vanek wasnt so bad.

      *I’d also like to note the Sabres did us a solid there.

  • geoilersgist

    DSF reminds me of Sacha Baron Cohen during the Borat years: no matter what the circumstance, he always shows up in costume and in character. But at the risk of rousing the ire of the uberTroll and the galaxy of ST haters, the strategy of the rebuild is slowly heaving into view: rather than breaking the bank on a mess of middling UFA’s a la Wideman and Hudler, as a host of armshair GMs have been crying for, the Oil will shortly have signed a stable of superstars, at reasonably coinage, for the duration of their peak performing years, allowing their lesser lights to develop in the calm and well coached obscurity of the AHL. Go ahead, haters, tell me its not going according to plan.

  • I agree with Doug the Slug, everything is going accroding to plan. With 3 1st overall picks, it is probably working out better than expected.

    Sure the Oilers backed in to the rebuild, but once it began, they avoided going after the quick fixes which led them to the cellar in the first place.

    Also, I could be wrong, but the Oilers look like they are GMd by commitee. I don’t think it is all Tambo.

  • NEW PERSPECTIVE TO CONSIDER ? MacT.And TAMS apparantly are equals with neither one above or below the other . Every decision basically then has to go thru Lowe for his approval . In order to sign Hall long term , apparantly they upped their offer to $6M/per season . Eberle may/may not get same offer , and it will probably be longevity that dictates what type of offer he receives . Since MacT. has arrived things seem to be getting more positive with him sharing some of the load . Two heads better than one perhaps , as some change has been noticed since Mact. came back on the scene .

  • Truth

    The last few seasons have been better than the previous few for the simple fact they were exciting to watch on a more regular basis.

    Second, I think management is smart enough to plan how they’re going to keep Hall, Nuge, Ebs, Yak, Schutlz, Smid, and others all under the cap. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be management.

    Third, I really don’t care how much these kids get of Katz’s money, as long as there’s some room to pay role players that will fill holes in our line-up.

    Finally, and most importantly, Hockey better happen this year because our meteoric rise to the top of the contenders heap begins now. The rebuild is over and this contract signals that. Now we just need to put in some furniture and ours will be the biggest baddest house on the block!

  • paul wodehouse

    Will …your take & my take on this contract being given now differ in that it isn’t that the rebuild is over imo…it’s the fear that these players through their agents have with the uncertainty that the new CBA has yet to unveil with regard to terms of deals … hence the seven years he’s inked …maybe the new CBA only gives him 5 so…why not sign the longer term and get more mula….our clubs’ bid to be a contender could be characterized better than “meteoric”…how’bout more like @ a snails’ pace…perhaps tortoise-like?

    one Hall signing does not a Cup contender make…

  • Wanye, I have to give you some props. Normally I either skim or skip your articles, since your sense of humour really isn’t my style, but this was actually a well-written, thoughtful little review of the past decade and a half of Oilers history. If you want to write more pieces like this, I’d be all for it. Of course, if you just want to scream like a girl at the thought of Jordan Eberle, well, who am I to deprive some of the fans on this site of that?

  • Smyth94ever

    Great article and you articulated where we’ve been, where we’re at and where we’re going (FULL STEAM AHEAD, BTW!) most excellently! Like was said in 79-80 (when you were still just a vision in your parent’s futures), “Stanley Cup within 5 years!” I’m saying it again now!

    My only question is why don’t you write articles more often? We need your “guy on the street” viewpoint more on the reg. OK? Thanks, WG!