6-6-6: NUMBER OF THE BEAST

Taylor Hall is a terrific young player and I don’t have much doubt that, in the context of "market value" in today’s NHL, he will be worth every penny of the $42 million big stack the Edmonton Oilers will pay him during the seven-year extension they just signed him to.

While I do have issues with a market that’s deemed it necessary for teams to cough up the kind of dough we’ve seen thrown around at players two years into entry level contracts or just coming out of them — as anybody listening to the Jason Gregor Show the last couple of days will know – that’s the price point in dollars and term that’s been set. Unwisely so, but here we are.

Would the Oilers, who’ve flushed countless bundles of lettuce down the toilet with bad contracts to lesser players since the 2006 Stanley Cup run, have been smart to ignore the market that’s been set and play hardball with Hall, the next captain of the team, in the name of fiscal responsibility? Three guesses.

Framed in that context, I won’t have a problem when the Oilers announce they’ve inked Jordan Eberle to exactly the same cap hit, give or take $100,000, in coming days, which they will. And I won’t be unhappy about one year from now when the sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to the same dollars and term.

That’s 6-6-6 for three players who, despite the length of term, will still be on the right side of 30 when the contracts expire. That’s fixing your price point and buying some UFA years for three players who’ll be Oilers property for the most productive years of their careers.

That, Steve Tambellini haters, is an astute move.

THE OTHER MONEY

With the big ticket items set, or about to be over the next year, what the Oilers and Tambellini have to do from here on out is get a whole lot better at taking care of the relatively small change (rookie Nail Yakupov, Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner notwithstanding) when it comes to the rest of the roster. In other words, they’ll need some value contracts.

While we’ve seen teams run into difficulty on that front before – the Chicago Blackhawks come to mind – paying your top end and core players what the market dictates can be done, but you’ve got to watch the little deals so that big ones make sense. Not rocket science, or it shouldn’t be.

Jonathan Willis, all the writers here actually, have touched on Tambellini’s penchant for spending an extra $100,000 (or more) here or an extra $100,000 there for players further down the pecking order when filling spots outside the team’s top six forwards, top four defensemen and starting goaltender.

Shawn Horcoff’s contract, in term and dollars, is obviously a millstone the team will have to ride out. Nikolai Khabibulin’s punitive pact mercifully runs out after this season. Those are the obvious overpays but what’s done is done. What Tambellini has to do from here on out moving forward is be better at getting value outside those top 11 spots.

Overpays for role players on the third and fourth lines and third pairings on defense, when taken individually, might not raise red flags, but collectively they will cripple a team paying the marquee guys on the top end, as the Oilers intend to do with Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins. This is not a revelation, is it? Watch the pennies, the dollars will take of themselves.

The devil, as always, is in the details.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Now when do we move Hemsky and his bloated 5 million dollar contract. Horcoff and Khabibulin aren’t the only over inflated contracts left on this team.

    Some may argue the worth of the contract, but when it comes to this Oilers team Hemsky is the odd man out.

  • DSF

    Superstars can make a team good. Depth can make a team great. How good/great the Oilers become and how long they stay there will be the true test of management’s abilities. Stu and his crew will need to keep finding hidden gems in the mid to late rounds to help round out our roster at a decent price point.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Bronte, you hit the nail on the head (as well as some Oilernation citizens). Great players make teams playoff material, but the role players will take that team to the promise land. I think of Chicago the year they won it all. Of course the Toews, Kanes, Keiths and Seabrooks were the anchors, but the Buffalins (i know its mispelled), Versteegs, Bollands and Brouwers made them the best that year.

    As much wrath as Tambellini receives, I think he has done a pretty decent job thus far. Remember what kind of god-awful mess KLowe left the poor sap when taking the job.

    We needed depth at defense. We rid the pilon with the hole in his stick Foster for Sutton. Won that trade. Took a chance on a 3rd overall draft pick on a one year deal with Barker. Didn’t work out, but had the potential to be one heck of a steal. No harm there. Exchanged Gilbert for Schultz for defensive purposes, yet Schultz was actually adding points as well. Needed grit. Brought in Eager. Not Tambi’s fault Eager thinks he’s top 6. Needed help on the dot. In comes Belanger. Obviously he struggled last year, but I fault Renney for putting Horcoff out for critical faceoffs last year, when a)Belanger is 5x’s better at it and b) thats why he was brought in. From a GMs point of view he filled holes with players who should have been able to fill them.

    As this team develops into a playoff team over the next few years, these role players that will be added will be the real indication for me as to whether Tambi knows what hes doing.

    Saying that, I still think we have below average defense and suspect goaltending. Until those areas are addressed, I fear we will be forever in lottery-land…whenever there is hockey again.