The Lockout Ends: Now What?

The NHL lockout finally came to an end thanks to a marathon bargaining session that started Saturday and stretched into the early hours of Sunday morning. So what happens next for the Edmonton Oilers?

1. Buyout decisions. The new collective agreement will allow the Oilers to buyout up to two contracts, and I think they should use at least one. The first, on loyal soldier Shawn Horcoff, is a sad necessity: I’ve always appreciated the player but given the uncertainty of the salary cap for the next few years his $5.5 million cap hit is a luxury the club can’t afford. There are a number of possibilities for the second – on the NHL roster, guys like Eric Belanger, Ben Eager and Corey Potter are all potential victims. I also wonder about the possibility of clearing a spot on the 50-man list with a buyout – a guy like Cameron Abney (recently passed on the depth chart by Central Hockey League enforcer Erick Lizon) might be a candidate.

2. Trade talks. If NHL teams – as has been suggested and makes a certain amount of sense, given the lack of hockey – have been cooking up deals over the early part of this winter we should see a flurry of trades here in the early going. Bob Stauffer has previously talked about a “wow” deal for the Oilers, but that was contingent on a December start to the season. We’ll know right away if they have anything in the works.

3. Free agents. The Oilers have to decide quickly if they want to bring any unrestricted free agents on board. Up front they look fairly set but a depth defenceman like Chris Campoli, Colin White, Randy Jones or Mike Mottau might be a sound investment. The names available aren’t great, but that’s what’s left.

4. Training camp. Reporter Steve Zipay tweets this morning that most clubs (barring CBA snags) plan to start training camps on either Wednesday or Thursday. This means a bunch of guys playing elsewhere need to get to Edmonton – from NHL’ers overseas to Nail Yakupov to the AHL cluster. Aside from obvious AHL guys (NHL’ers and Justin Schultz) I imagine we’ll see at least one of Colten Teubert/Taylor Fedun as well as a guy like Arcobello or Lander or VandeVelde.

5. Hockey. Undoubtedly, some fans will tune out but my sense is that most will come rushing back. For Oilers fans, the enticements are many. Justin Schultz narrowly missed the all-time AHL goal-scoring record (I’m assuming he doesn’t appear in today’s game) for a defenceman in just 34 games; he’ll be in an Oilers uniform and playing big minutes. Nail Yakupov’s KHL season this year stacks up well against guys like Alexander Ovechkin at the same age – he too will be in Edmonton. Familiar players like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will have an advantage out of the gates thanks to brilliant starts in the AHL. There’s a lot to look forward to.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • book¡e

    JW – I don’t think Oiler fans will be able to stay away this year regardless of any anger they have. As you say Shultz alone is a big draw, add in Yakupov, RNH, Hall, Eberle, and a hopefully rejuvenated returning crew of vetrans and this team is going to be exciting.

    As per Schultz playing tonight, I wonder if the NHL players will suit up anyway, it might be hard to get players up from the ECHL in time?

  • John Chambers

    I hope the NHLers still play in OKC today — I think it’d be kind of a dick move for them to jump ship without time to be replaced. They’ll have a few days before training camp to relax, and it’s motivation for Schultz to score a hat trick today. Besides, unless the Oilers have already made it known which Barons will be invited to training camp, it might make more sense for the invitations to come tonight or tomorrow and all the affected Barons head to Edmonton together — there must be a handful of guys who might get an invite but don’t know for sure.

    • 24% body fat

      If you can buy out and resign players (which you cant) Eberle and Hall would be the players, assuming you can work a deal out with them.

      Mathematically that is the best cap saving deal.

        • 24% body fat

          what I am saying is the hypothetical situation. For easy purposes say the buyout is half the contract

          Hall makes for the next 7 years 42M dollars at a cap hit of 6.

          You now buy him out, and he gets 21M over a shortened period. The oilers now need to resign him for 21M over the next 7 years to “Make Whole”.

          SO you can now sign Hall to a 7 year 23.5 deal and only have a cap hit of 3.5M instead of 6 going forward. IF you do this with Eberle and Hall you now could wave 7M on cap hit for the next 6 years.

          Buying out Horcoff and resigning him Will save you maybe 2.5 over the next three years.

          If Hall and Eberle were on board and saw that they would get more money up front, in total and save the team a cap hit, is it reasonable for them to make this deal. I think it is.

          Other questions around this though are; How do buy outs that dont effect salary cap tied to HRR. Could reduce it, in effect reducing the growth of the salary cap.

        • Cheap Shot Charlie

          I’d agree. Plus if RNH and Yak only sign for $6M than I’m happy. It’s controlling the payroll through peer respect. No one makes more than Hall or Ebs. If you demand more you will get traded. That’s what I read.

  • RexLibris

    Now what: anger, resentment, bitterness. And begrudginly coming back to the sport I love and the team that has won (and often abused) my affection.

    I’m assuming the buyout is open at the end of this season, which could create a large pool of free agents with very little money to go around.

    As for the “Oiler Rule”, how embarassingly funny would it be if they finished 10th in the West and still won the draft lottery this year? Flames and Canucks fans might have a collective conniption fit out of disgust.

    I know I would if either of them were to win it. 😉

  • m3sh

    It’s the right thing to do if they are sitting those guys! They just played two games in two days & need to make their way back to Etown. Don’t forget, this is Nuckleheads farm team & I wouldn’t doubt some players would want to make an impression for the big club by taking a run at one of these young stars!

    • Czar

      Isn’t Khabi’s contract over after this season?

      I am looking forward to seeing if Krueger can get more out of this team and utilize the players better. No way in hell he gives Horcoff as much ice time as Renney did. Khabi should see 8-10 games max and I’ll have to be drunk for every one of them.

      • Czar

        Oh… the outline they made wasn’t completely clear on the amnesty buyouts. So to make it clear the buyouts don’t start until the next offseason because I had interpreted it as it being offered from the time the CBA is ratified until the start of the season this year.

  • I got a Yakupov jersey for Christmas from my wife, I kind of wish she wold have waited……something tells me #10 will be available.

    A question if I may.

    Would the Oilers be open to giving Hall or Eberle the captaincy now, knowing Horcoff will be bought out?

    Or does Horcoff relinquish the “C” knowing he won’t be here long term?

    I still don’t see the Oilers making any huge trades until next season when potentially a lot of players come available from buyouts and UFA.

  • m3sh

    Screw the NHL, this season is a write off. I’ll watch next year maybe. But hope all you have fun pretending like this year isn’t just a money grab and fall back in line like good little sheep

    • Cheap Shot Charlie

      Some people seem to take the lockout a little too personally. Once the puck drops, I couldn’t care less what happened on the business side of things. It will be entertaining, and I will watch. What’s so wrong with that?

      Go Oilers!
      Squuuuuuuuuuueeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

  • Lexi

    JW,

    Haven’t had much time to read exactly what the CBA says, but my initial thoughts are;

    -This is great news for the Oilers as the franchise needed this year to help evaluate management, Krueger, Dubnyk, Whitney and Gagner, plus kids need to get back to the NHL (including JS and Yak, who I think we’re starting to stagnate in their situations). The short season means the growing pains will be less painful, and quite frankly with how good this year’s draft looks, if we’re still bad I’d rather get a top 5 pick than the randomness of the draft position if there was no season.

    My gut says at least one very good team in the West will struggle, opening up a least one playoff position. My first thought was Chicago, but with Kopitar and Quick now injured and almost no key Kings playing, I could see them struggling.

    The buyouts can happen after either this year or next, so I’m assuming they keep Horcoff until they are positive they have an adequate replacement for him. There should be some interesting names on the FA front in the next couple of years. A guy like Tyutin becomes more valuable as he can be used for two years and then bought out, which a team like the Oil can afford to do more than Columbus.

    It looks to me like the two buyout rule came right from Snider, as I think no team is more helped by it than Philly. It lets them see how the next two years go before they decide which of their long term guys like Bryz, Hartnell, Simmons, Briere to get rid off, before resigning Giroux, Courterier and Schenn.

    I believe the buyout provision makes Luongo an extremely valuable trade commodity now. I think Chicago and Toronto will be significantly upping their bids. I hope the Oil stay out of the bidding.

    I think the $44 Mill cap floor opens up some interesting opportunities for getting guys out of places like Phx and the Isle. I’m hoping Streit is now available.

    I just hope the Oilers management are doing a proactive job of recalculating the values of players and draft picks in this new CBA. I believe the teams that do the best job of this will set themselves up for the next five years no matter who they are.

    Ps: I can’t seem to get paragraph breaks. I apologize to anyone trying to read my brilliance.

    • Czar

      “My gut says at least one very good team in the West will struggle”

      A slow start to the season for the Canucks and they could be that team.

      J.W. What goaltenders could become available and who do you think would be of interest to the Oil? I just hope it’s not Luigi and please Tambi and co. keep Boomeister away from the Oilers locker room.

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        well, according to DSF the wild are going to play 60+ HOME playoff games over the next 10 years, so it certainly wont be them that struggles. no sir-ee!

      • I need to think about that – I’m still switching gears from AHL/lockout coverage to ‘actual NHL hockey.’

        I do know the FA list is awfully small – my suspicion is the Oilers just roll with Dubnyk/Khabby or Dubnyk/Danis.

      • Lexi

        I think the Canucks might get off to a slow start, but as long as Schnieder plays well, they could be a big winner this year. I believe they are going get a much better haul for Luongo than expected due to the buyout provision. I also think for teams hoping to go deep in the playoffs, not having many guys playing right now might be beneficial. For example someone like Malkin is going to have a lot of games on him by May.

        • Czar

          “not having many guys playing right now might be beneficial”

          Not sure I agree with this statement.I’d rather have my horses in game shape and condition raring to go than sitting around waiting for the lockout to end. Schneider could make a difference as he does have a few games under his belt but was less than stellar at the spengler cup.Canucks are getting older and after last years collapse in the playoffs it’s seems theres more going on in that dressing room than we’re aware of.Not sure the trading of Luongo will solve the locker room issues.

          • Lexi

            You could be right, especially if Kesler doesn’t come back healthy, they suddenly become pretty thin in the middle.

            After not looking at the teams for so long, I had forgotten what a crapshoot the West could be. With the best teams being the teams that had the fewest guys playing, and the shorten season, I don’t think there is any team that is a sure thing for the playoffs and I could make a case for every team making the playoffs, with the possible exception of Columbus.

            As a fan of a team that has finished 30, 30, and 29th this could be the most exciting, crazy 3 months of regular season hockey I’ve ever seen as pretty much every game will be a four pt game.

            For this reason I hope the Oil sticks with Dubnyk. The Spengler was a great way for him to get an Exhibition season. If he plays well, great, if he plays like Steve Mason, we just have to put up with it for 3 months and we get a Jones, Barkov, McKinnon for our troubles while we look for a new goalie next offseason.

  • John Chambers

    Paajarvi and Hartikainen should make the opening-day roster given their mid-season form. Yann Danis too.

    Let’s hope Hordichuk and Khabibulin only see ice in practice.

  • Czar

    No offence Jay but have a hard time seeing you not watching a game this year when you read the blogs and even take time to make the postings. I would say you probably feel that way, but odds are against you being able to not watch 1 game. GL though, whish I felt like that too, but just too much desire to see the Oilers play together to resist.

  • SuntanOil

    I don’t know Jonathan. While I admit that I will be watching games on TV, my feelings about the NHL have changed, and while I look forward to watching the young guns grow and evolve together I don’t foresee a day where I will own any jerseys bearing their name or logo. I got good at walking by NHL merchandise without buying it these last months and unlike the salty snacks and beverages I would consume while watching games, I don’t miss being covered in Oilers logos one bit.

    I liken it to a marriage where the spouses realize that they no longer love each other and yet they stay together because they don’t really have any better options. I will watch hockey because I allowed it to be too big of a part of me in the past and it will take me some time to remove the deep roots the game has in my psyche. Then, when a lockput happens again I will walk away forever.

    At one time I was a bigger baseball fan than I am a hockey fan, but when the players went on strike just before the World Series and it cost us the Expos, I walked away. Aside from The Jays World Series, a Cal Ripken night, and watching some steroid monsters chase a few records, I haven’t watched baseball since. I couldn’t tell you the names of 10 current MLBer’s.

    It was easier to walk away from baseball – it is played in the Summer, when parks, beaches and festivals beckon. Winter, on the other hand, is much longer with far less to do, and hockey has always been a nice distraction from it. This year, when hockey is being played in late June, I am pretty sure I will already be doing more important things than yelling at my TV. Life is too short.

    In the meantime, the Flames Suck

  • Dutchscooter

    JW, what happens to Yakupov if he doesn’t make the team? I know, fat chance, but wouldn’t he have to be assigned to the OHL? Could the Oilers ‘loan’ him to his KHL team?

  • oilredemption

    The second compliance buyout (other than Horcoff) could also be used on any short term defensive help that the Oilers may be able to land through a trade. Take on a temporarily bad contract, make the playoffs, then clear the decks next summer.

  • I would love to see them sign Arnott to a short term reasonable deal.

    Hopkins, Gagner, Arnott, and Horcoff is a solid set of centres and really gives us a balanced attack. With the following lines we manage some size and grit on each line and enough talent to matchup against almost anyone.

    Hartikainan, Nuge, Eberle

    Hall, Gagner, Hemsky

    Yakupov, Arnott, Jones

    Smyth, Horcoff, Paajarvi

    Then I would love to see them pick up one Dman. I don’t mind Potter as a 7th, but do not like him as a 6th.

    Smid, Petry

    N Schultz, J Schultz

    Whitney, and a solid stay at home Dman. It would be ideal if this was an NHL ready Dman in the enforcer mould of Peckam or Teubert to add the toughness that this team needs

    With Potter as the 7th. I see this as a solid D corps that we can build around as our young prospects mature.

    I like Dubnyk and would probably bring up Danis to back him up.

  • SurfacetoAirMissile

    I am soooo pissed off at the owners and the players that I will be doing my best to boycott the NHL season. I vow to watch no more than 47 Edmonton Oiler regular season games! ….. Unless it is a 50 game season then I will consider watching 49. My hypocracy only goes so far.

  • Lexi

    Don’t expect much movement or trades in the early stages of this short season. Firstly, teams have $ 70 mil cap space, secondly, will take 10 games or even to trade dead line to evaluate personnel.

    Not sure if Oilers will exercise that WOW! trade they talked about? I suspect it might have been
    Big Lou? Will see how Dubnyk plays early on.

    For this year, if Whitney is recovered, and with the addition of Schultz, the defense will be fine. Center is an area of concern, and most of all SANDPAPER… none on this team.. please dont tell me Eager or Hordichuk. Sutton will be missed. I dont think Peckham can fill his skates.

    Most of the buyouts and movement will happen this summer.

  • Lexi

    Don’t expect much movement or trades in the early stages of this short season. Firstly, teams have $ 70 mil cap space, secondly, will take 10 games or even to trade dead line to evaluate personnel.

    Not sure if Oilers will exercise that WOW! trade they talked about? I suspect it might have been
    Big Lou? Will see how Dubnyk plays early on.

    For this year, if Whitney is recovered, and with the addition of Schultz, the defense will be fine. Center is an area of concern, and most of all SANDPAPER… none on this team.. please dont tell me Eager or Hordichuk. Sutton will be missed. I dont think Peckham can fill his skates.

    Most of the buyouts and movement will happen this summer.

  • 15w40

    I am not naive enough to think that there will be a lasting backlash or impact from this lock out. I would like to see these yahoos play in some deserted arenas on every opening night at each venue. Not likely I know but at least it would make them think even if for just one second. Pretty hard to organize but that’s my pipe dream.

  • Czar

    I think with Hemsky’s pass first attitude he’s a natural fit with Yak. I know one of them would have to play on their off wing but it could be a thing of beauty and Hemmer would finally have the trigger man he’s been lacking.Look what he did for Horcoff all those years ago!!

    Is Hemsky still leading his team in penalty mins? You know somethings wrong with that picture.

  • Toro

    So just curious , when we decide to buyout Horcoff is this gonna take place before the season starts or after the season? And when could we start to expect some trades happening ?

  • 2004Z06

    Pretty sure you won’t be able to re-sign a player you just bought out. Likely will be some kind of timeframe (1 year) before you can re-sign a guy you bought out.