As 2012 winds down I’m tempted to wax optimistic about an end to the NHL lockout in the wake of a close-the-deal offer to the NHLPA by Gary Bettman and the owners, but I’ll resist the urge until we see if there’s any sign of actual progress after a conference call between the parties this morning.

Fans have had the optimism kicked out of them through the ups and downs of the process as Donald Fehr and Bettman have taken turns looking like boobs representing their respective positions as the stalemate has stretched into the triple digits in terms of days. Arms-length cynicism is probably a good call as we get ready to welcome 2013.

What I will say, as others already have, is that if there isn’t the basis for a deal in the NHL’s latest offer in time to salvage a 48-game season starting Jan. 19, I’ll be astounded (even allowing for the stubbornness and stupidity displayed by both sides until now).

If you didn’t read the highlights of the latest offer by the NHL, provided by Jason Gregor here, there’s a comprehensive summary of the fine print Fehr and Bettman will be discussing today here, courtesy of TSN.ca.

I expect we’ll have a pretty good feel for which way it’s going to go – by way of an official news release or educated speculation in 140-character snippets — by the time people are toasting the New Year and wearing lampshades on their heads at midnight (or earlier) Monday.


While most of the latest offer represents only minor tweaks to previous offers, or no change in position at all in many aspects, there is movement. As it pertains to teams already over a projected salary cap of $60 million, like the Edmonton Oilers, language regarding the cap is significant.

As per TSN: "Clubs can operate with an effective Upper Limit of $70.2 million in 2012/13; must come into compliance with $60 million Upper Limit for the start of the 2013/14 season."

That provides teams like the Oilers, 13th in payroll at $62,933.33 according to CapGeek, time to get their salary structure in order and wiggle room for rosters, at least until the puck drops for the 2013-14 season.

With Nikolai Khabibulin ($3.75 million), Andy Sutton ($1.75 million), Ryan Whitney ($4 million) and Darcy Hordichuk ($850,000) coming off the books after this season, GM Steve Tambellini might have the option of filling a hole or two for an abbreviated 2012-13 campaign – the WOW deal Bob Stauffer at 630 CHED hinted at a couple months ago.

While the above players have to be replaced, an astute GM (there’s the rub) could do it by using younger, cheaper players on the upswing for those roster spots. Will the Oilers re-sign Whitney, even if he stays healthy? The way I see it, Tambellini could fill those four spots for about $4 million a season.


If a season is salvaged, I urge teams, regardless of any edict from the NHL head office, to resist the temptation to trot out the super-lame "Thank-you fans" messages we saw on ice surfaces around the league after the last work stoppage. That’s pure spin and PR. Thanks for what?

If teams are the least bit serious about thanking fans in a meaningful way (I have my doubts), then make it real: announce a league-wide 10 per cent cut in the price of tickets, and a similar rebate for season ticket packages already purchased, for this season and all of 2013-14.

Finally, I’d like to wish everybody at Oilersnation and our readers a happy, prosperous and productive 2013.

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

  • 24% body fat

    Would you really want to make a wow trade with so much cap and market uncertainty. Teams are going to be pushing to get under the cap. A lot of lower spending teams are going to reap the rewards of free agency where teams can not spend much. Now more than ever in the next year or two you need to make good use of ELC.

    Sorry oilers only moves should be to buy out Horcoff and find a replacement at half the price.

    Oh and find a back up goalie.

    • Toro

      There is not cap uncertainty. We know what it’s going to be be.

      Taking advtange of ELCs is exactly what you need to do to fill those spaces, thus the savings potential.

      • 24% body fat

        Sorry I shouldn’t say cap uncertainty, but no one knows what the market value is going to be for free agents.

        If we make a wow trade now with our younger players for an establish player (whose contract will be based on value from the last CBA) than we are going to be creating more potential cap issues.

        Any scenario of a wow trade would most likely includes a quality prospect who would be on an ELC or value contract (petry) which is what the Oilers should not trade.

        Edit: Further to that, trading for any player with a back diving contract will have future repercussions also, a wow trade could have a player like this involved. I think we can all say trading for a contract based on last CBA would be less financially sound until the new CBA salaries have adjusted (unless it is for Giroux, not happening though) Would you rather pay a player who make 8 percent of the cap at a 57% share in a 50% cap, or 8% of a 50% share in a 50% cap. Trading now while we are still two years away from legitimacy is a huge mistake. Wait for the market to adjust and loopholes exposed.

  • oilabroad

    The Horcoff situation is an interesting one, do you think the management would pull the trigger on that buyout Robin? Do you think Katz would let them? thanks!

    • 24% body fat

      I don’t think Horcoff is immune from being bought out because of his friendship with Katz.

      Katz and Kevin Lowe are tight, yet the team replaced head trainer Ken Lowe, so the buddy system doesn’t trump all.

  • John Chambers

    They could make Horcoff an interesting offer. Assuming you can buy out the remainder of the contract ($7M) for half the price ($3.5M), they could then re-sign him for a reasonable 1.75M per for 2 years and still pay him the same dough at a much reduced cap hit.

    Horcoff would have to play ball in this scenario, but I don’t see why he wouldn’t because he would get money up front, while getting to stay with the team.

        • Why would the Oilers buy out one of their best player??

          The buyout structure isn’t going to change; the “amnesty clause” is a onetime buy out of a player off the books so that teams can re-structure to get below the cap.

          Once you buy a player out that’s it, he becomes an unrestricted free agent who can no longer be re-signed by that team.

          I have a feeling that there will some good players come July 10th.

          • 24% body fat

            Im saying if you could buy out and resign your players, than to save the most cap you would do it to Hall. Buy him out. He gets his money. Than you sign him to another 7 year deal which is for the money he loses plus a little something for being a team player. Now he is at just a little over half his 6M hit. It would be something like 3.2 hit or so.

            Buy no means would I ever get rid of Hall.

          • DSF

            Interesting to speculate who might become available:

            ANA: Getzlaf, Perry

            BOS: Thomas

            BUF: Leino

            CAL: Iginla

            CAR: Semin

            CHI: None

            COL: None

            CLB: Wiesnewski

            DAL: None

            DET: None

            EDM: Horcoff

            FLA: Jovo?

            LAK: Gagne

            MINN: Heatley

            MTL: Gomez

            NSH: None

            NJD: None

            NYI: Dipietro?

            NYR: None

            OTT: None

            PHA: Timonen

            PHX: None

            PIT: None

            SJS: Havlat

            STL: None

            TBL: Lecavalier? (very expensive buyout)

            TOR: Komisarek

            VCR: Ballard

            WSH: None

            WPG: None

          • 24% body fat

            Even more of a reason not to trade just to make a wow trade.

            Good players will be available for cheap.

            Team like Anaheim (if they aren’t in a playoff run) are going to sell for cheap.

            Oh DSF you forgot Stajan. This one will be the first guy available.

          • DSF

            With a $60M cap the following season, the Oilers can’t afford to sign Getzlaf or Perry so trading for them while on expiring contracts would be dumb.

            Teams well below the cap will be able to feast on guys like this.

            I would expect Dale Tallon and John Davidson will be very active.

            Good point about Stajan

          • John Chambers

            BOS – Will buy out Savard if they can, depending on injury

            CHI – Hjalmarsson

            DAL – Derek Roy

            LAK – Penner

            NYR – Redden

            PHA – Bryzgalov? Pronger?

            PIT – Martin

            WSH – Joel Ward, or Brooks Laich?

            Teams will be paring away their expensive luxuries, as in the guys they’re paying to be 1st liners who no longer are, guys who are paid like top pair defensemen who no longer are, and $3M+ 3rd liners.

          • DSF

            No need to buy out players who are on LTIR like Savard and Pronger. They don’t count against the cap.

            Penner and Roy are on the last year of their deals so will be done.

    • stevezie

      What they could do is swap him with another team’s buyout so when the OTHER team buys him out they can re-sign him. Of course, he would have to be up for this.

  • DSF

    If you assume they will buy out Horcoff it will leave them with 17million to sign 10 players.
    The only two on the roster I see them targeting would be Smid and Gagner.The rest will be entry level like Klefbom and minor league pros all at less than a million each.
    The days of paying Ryan jones 1.5 million are over.

  • I can’t see how Horcoff stays on the books. I can’t really see how they keep Hemsky too.

    Could be interesting though.

    The Oilers don’t have a lot of options here; they have a little over 10 million coming off the books + Sourays contract comes off as well, however they have to sign some important players.

    They have to re-sign Smid ASAP and at the very least qualify a few RFA’s

  • Oilertown

    Is the the 60 million cap for 1 season only? Does it go up again as revenue goes up?. So the following year its 62 million? Or is the league serious about a hard cap and will exist under a 60 million dollar cap for the length of the term of the CBA.

    Does this mean the end of escalating salaries for the foreseeable future?

    Guys like Ryan Jones are more likely to be the target at the midrange who will find themselves either out of work or with salaries in the 400 grand range. Its will be interesting to watch how the salary structure plays out.

    Fehr is an idiot if he advises the players to hold out for more. If he does I believe the next announcement we get from the league is that the season is canceled. No more talks for a couple of months.

    Happy New Year

  • This is all assuming that this deal gets done. Let’s hope! I really want to see Yak and Schultz in Oiler silks soon. And I’m also interested in seeing how Kreuger coaches. Coaching could end up being the biggest difference. Who knows…

  • 24% body fat

    I for one think that the new offer rolled out by the NHL is just positioning. They know that the NHLPA will counter offer with a ridiculous proposal that cannot be negotiated from. This will set them up nicely for the impending court proceedings and allow them to claim the they tried everything to bargin, ” in good faith”.

    If the NHLPA has showed anything it’s their inability to put anything on paper, and to keep the target moving. This may be a good way to keep your opponent guessing, but the courts will not look favorably on this tactic.

    IMHO……..all this is full of sound and fury signifying nothing!

  • Without having to put down every team on Cap Geek almost every team has to make some type of trade signing or the use of the “Amnesty clause”

    We might see record number of trades at the trade deadline; I caution that I am speculating here.

    It’s also a possibility that the Oilers might get a good defenseman on the cheap, I’m also speculating that Bouwmeester will be the player bought out by Calgary, whether that’s this year or the summer, again who knows.

    I’m looking at cap geek to see what teams need to trade, sign players or both and what team’s needs might benefit from the Amnesty clause.
    At least it makes for interesting dialogue and speculation.

  • Slapshot

    If the NHL and NHLPA do make a deal,what are they going to do to attract fans back? Not so much in Canada, but some teams in the US have to be close to folding after this lockout.

    • I couldn’t agree more, I have the exact same feeling.

      I was on the owner’s side because I anticipated some collateral damage, but I didn’t expect the lockout to be this damaging in the way of PR and length.

      I think you will see the NHL relocate teams instead of folding them, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team folding as well.

  • 24% body fat

    You know what the funny thing here is with all these front loaded contracts;

    These guys are losing the biggest chunks of their money in the first year. Did they not see the lock out coming? Should have been smart enough to make only league minimum plus their outrageous bonus in the first year. Really maximize the money.

    I think most people are calculating the money lost based on cap hits and percentages. I wonder how much it really is when you look at how much should be being paid this year. Ex. Weber, his cap hit is just over half what he makes this year. Im not an accountant but does that not really ‘ef up escrow.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    We’ve seen numbers along the lines of 4 to 4.5 per thrown around for Smid upon renewal. I think this is laughable for a guy with only two tools in a 4 tool toolbox. If 60’ish is the new cap going into 13-14, Oilers may be better to throw Smid to the wolves as well, let him walk as a UFA. No way Smid is a 4+ per yr D’man in the new NHL. Nick Shultz,Sutton,Potter,Peckham, Smid….not much difference, value wise.

    Hopefully the famed WOW addition is in exchange for the soon to be overpaid 4 thru 6 D’man.

    Happy New Year to you to……you ole codger.

  • DSF

    Are we really going over this again? Sigh. I’ll say what I said yesterday. The only players on the current NHL roster signed past next year are Hall, Eberle, Yakupov, and Horcoff(who people are saying will be bought out). So that’s three players signed for the 2014-2015 season as of right now. How does anyone figure signing Smid will be a problem? That boggles the mind.

    Even next year, things are not as dire as some would suggest. If Horcoff is bought out, the Oilers will have just under 43 million committed to 13 players. They can make that work.

    • Wanyes bastard child

      Things start to fill up fast though if things go well for all the elite prospects. I don’t think you can just hand over 3 more $6 million/year deals to Nuge, Schultz and Yak and expect to adequately fill out a roster.

      We’re going to have to hope HRR goes up in a hurry.

      • Oilertown

        Last comment seemed to get lost in abyss try this. Don’t other teams have a whole sh!t load more big dollar contracts then the Oilers. Top of my head Rags would be one for sure, so in turn won’t there be a whole sh!t load of teams in MORE trouble then the Oilers.

        Not sure how the league is going to make this work, but I’m sure they will and the Oilers just like all the other teams will be fine

      • Oilertown

        All of those players you mentioned that are on the current NHL roster have their contracts expire after this year or next. Obviously many of them will be signed again. But my point stands that only Hall, Ebs, Yak, and Horcoff have contracts that extend past next year. So what I’m trying to say is that the Oilers will have lots of cap flexibility to go in whatever direction they choose. Though I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if one of the fab four up front was moved at some point. I’m not expecting it, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

        Also is anyone else staying up for the Canada USA game? I just got home from playing hockey myself so I my as well stay up now. I’m in the right mood. Should be a beauty of a game. Interested to see how Subban plays against top tier talent- I’m rootin for the guy. He has a lot of critics right now, and it’s always satisfying when someone shuts up the critics. Same goes for Yak.

        • DSF

          The problem is next season…not the one after.

          The Oilers have $48.5 million committed to the cap with only 14 players signed.

          So they have $11.5 million to sign 8 players.

          If they give Smid $3.5 million they have 8 million left to sign 7 players.

          If they re-sign Gagner for $3.5 million they have $4.5 million left to sign 6 players.

          If the sign a back up goaltender for $1M they have $3.5 million left to sign 5 players.

          At this point, if they buyout Horcoff they will have 9 million to sign 5 players.

          They need to replace Horcoff at #3C….$3 million?

          They need to replace Ryan Jones…$1.5M

          They need to re-sign Hartikainen…$1 million

          They then will have $4.5 million to sign FOUR defensemen.

          If Klefbom is one of them, at $1.25 million, they need THREE defensemen at $3 million.




          Peckham? Marincin?

          That bottom 4 is pretty scary.

          I think they will have to trade Hemsky for a top 4 D.

  • DSF

    $60 million, Cap is still a lot more than $39 million. Players and teams will have to adjust to the new level of pay.! Teams including the Oilers will not be able to afford have 6 players making $5 to $6 milion on a roster. They will sign for less because the team down the road will have the same problem.

    The real issue will be teams with smart GM will suceed… sorry Tamblini, you are not in this category… [ $3.5 million for Dubnyk is $1 million overpay.] You do that 5 times and miss the opportunity of signing a $ 5 million dollar player. There is no room on the team for Horcoff, Hemsky and Whitney .. here’s $15 million bucks.

  • DSF

    My thinking is teams that don’t mind spending a bit of money are going to be able to figure away to get rid of some money. Horcoff has a cap hit of $5.5 but his actual salary is $4mil followed by $3mil. That is a contract that could potentially be traded instead of being bought out,a team looking to get to the floor would being paying out less then the cap hit they are taking on. And if the Oilers were able to actually trade Horcoff they have the potential to take on a big Salary player in a seperate transaction and buy that player out thus saving his previous team the real $ it would cost.

  • johnnyboy


    … perhaps you were aiming for drivel …

    i suppose dribble works, but combined with spouting creates an odd image … you know?

    dribble …. but spouting?

    so! drivel-spouting-fool for @DSF, i think he will take this a bit more seriously!!

    you like the hyphens??