Horcoff Forever?

It might make some Oilers fans unhappy, but it looks like the club has no intention of moving team captain Shawn Horcoff anytime soon.

30 Thoughts

Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman spoke to Steve Tambellini about the possibility of moving Horcoff at the trade deadline, and on Monday wrote about the answer in his (always must-read) “30 Thoughts” column:

Tambellini also nuked the possibility of a Shawn Horcoff trade. People are always looking for centres and $26 million of Horcoff’s $33-million contract will be paid off after this season (he also has a no-move clause). Plus, it was not lost on the Oilers that things improved on the marathon road trip when Horcoff returned.

It makes sense that Tambellini is thinking this way, given what he said during an intermission interview on Sportsnet a few games back:

Shawn Horcoff, I think, stood up and took re-control of the dressing room and I think it was a very important part of this road trip that now he’s in the dressing room and we’re following kind of a lead of his.

The Contract

The problem with Horcoff these days is that there’s no perfect answer for the Oilers. The dollar value on his contract is too high, and ideally they’d have a cheaper option filling his spot in the lineup. However, he adds a skillset the team really can’t afford to lose. On the ice he adds size (at 6’1”, 208lbs he’s one of the Oilers’ bigger forwards), speed, defensive responsibility, and still can play a complementary role offensively. Off the ice, that Tambellini line above says exactly what the team thinks of him – despite occasional fan discontent, everything that’s ever come to light publicly from the players or organization indicates that Horcoff is respected in the room. The players’ were thrilled when Horcoff was named captain, and there’s been no indication that’s changed.

How big of a problem is Horcoff’s contract? Despite the impressive dollar figure, it’s one that should be manageable for the Oilers, for two big reasons:

He’s more tradable in the future. Money earned drops in 2013-14 and again in 2014-15. Additionally, his no-move clause becomes a limited no-trade clause in 2013-14, and goes away entirely in 2014-15. If the Oilers want to move him to a budget team at that time, it should be doable (provided his play doesn’t entirely fall off a cliff).

His contract can be seen as a place-holder. Shawn Horcoff becomes an unrestricted free agent at exactly the same time that Nail Yakupov becomes a restricted free agent; keeping Horcoff around essentially guarantees that the Oilers have enough cap space available to get Yakupov extended.

I’ve long seen Horcoff as a candidate for a compliance buyout in the summer, but that just doesn’t seem likely at this point. He’s still a useful player to the Oilers, his contract isn’t ideal but is far from crippling (the Oilers have $20 million or so in cap space to play with this summer), and if they aren’t willing to think about trading him at the deadline they certainly aren’t going to be willing to pay to make him go away.

Shawn Horcoff seems likely to be an Oiler until at least this time next year, and that’s probably the right decision.

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  • Newj

    Horc is great for the team he fills a extremely valuable roll. and his cost is going down with every year. i would be sad if the traded him. he’s an oiler through and through. hope he retires here.

  • lets start calling our beloved gm draftilini. has a nice ring to it.

    the more things change…the more things stay the same…sighhhhhhhhh

    someone has to say it —

    “and for the first overall pick in the 2014 draft, the edmonton oilers choose ____________???

    so sick of this :(((((((((((((((

  • Bucknuck

    Horcoff is a great third line centre. He used to be a 1st line centre, then he got hurt and he’s never been the same. Unfortunately he got a 1st line centre contract. You can’t blame him for that. It will be over soon.

    Now that the Oilers are sellers thanks to the last three games, I think the Oilers will start moving assets again. If Ryan Whitney or Ladislave Smid aren’t extended, then I would expect them to be gone by the deadline.

    Can someone please trade Tambellini!? That is the definition of addition by subtraction.

  • Milli

    I like horc, I like what he brings and I don’t pay him. But when in BLEEEEEEP is Tambi gonna get axed? How can he run the trade deadline when he is a deadman? Come on oilers, be better that this.

  • Milli

    We don’t have any internal candidates to replace him. His minutes are tough too. RNH will be awesome but he isn’t ready to take on the toughest opponents yet. Gagner has had an awesome season but I think he is best when facing the secondary competition and feasting offensively. We are definitely better off with Horcoff next year. I see C as probably our shallowest position organizationally.

  • Milli

    A few things:

    One – Let’s drop this “it’s not Horc’s fault Lowe handed him a massive contract” line. A player’s agent asks for a sum and the GM usually counters. I highly doubt Lowe’s opening offer was 5.5 per season. For all we know Horcoff could have initially asked for 7 million per.

    It’s Lowe’s fault for being fiscally reckless, but Horcoff’s side played a role by demanding big bucks.

    Two- Horcoff will be 36 after this contract expires. I don’t understand why several commenters here think it would be such a major score if the Oilers could extend him beyond this contract for 1 or 2 million per season.

    Three- I believe Horcoff has a small window in his contract this summer in which his no-movement clause is briefly lifted. This would allow The Oilers to expose him to waivers.

    I could see a cap floor team being interested in Horcoff, as he is due to be paid $4 000,000 next year and then 3.5 million the year after that. His cap hit will remain at 5.5 million.

  • Maggie the Monkey

    I laughed when I read: “wandering aimlessly in the desert still” in reference to the Oilers’ hockey operations management. I believe the quote was originally attributed to Jay Feaster. And Feaster is still correct in his analysis of the Oilers’ top ops people.

    What will it take to flush Lowe, Tambellini and others that have contributed to this long-time mess? For any other NHL organization, 30th, 30th and 29th place finishes over the last three seasons and six years out of the playoffs would earn dismissal. Why not here? Can we get someone with hockey intelligence to buyout the owner?

    As for Captain Horcoff, I really don’t have a problem with his contract, even if it is a huge overpay. Others have remarked that Horcoff isn’t the only one with an undeserved contract. NHL GMs continue to stupidly overpay. Case in point Semin this week. I have a problem with Horcoff’s on-ice performance, he really is a floater, a non-performer that takes up ice time. And he wastes a position as a centre, where the Oilers are really deficient and ties one of the 50 contracts. The club would be better off with Lander.

    Which Oilers team will show up tonight in St. Louis?

  • Maggie the Monkey

    Except for playmaking, shooting, passing, scoring, physical play, toughness, and hockey vision, Horcoff is a good player.

    Look people he can skate really fast and win the odd faceoff…….a star on the Oilers!

  • Maggie the Monkey

    The quicker we strip horcoff of the captaincy and give it to hall the better.

    Look at Toews, and morrow and iggy when he was younger. They hated to lose. They held everyone else to account partly by their intense play. Hall has the same characteristics.

    Horcoff floats. Horcoff is used to losing (as is iggy). And hes now on the third line The team will go nowhere as long as he’s the captain.

    Buy him down to make him tradable and get him and the dark days that he symbolizes behind us.