CALM BEFORE THE STORM

For the first time since 2006 the NHL draft will be a one day event. It starts at 1 p.m. MST on Sunday and is scheduled to last eight hours. Edmonton currently has the #7, #37, #56 (from Anaheim), #128, #158 and #188. They traded their 3rd rounder (Fistric) to Dallas and 4th rounder to Florida (Smithson).

This week has already had many story lines, and we can expect to many more before Sunday evening. The Oilers were in the news again this morning when Dallas Eakins announced his coaching staff.

As Robin Brownlee accurately predicted on June 09th, Keith Acton is the new associate head coach. Acton played 72 games with the Oilers in 1988 and 1989, but this hire doesn’t fall under the heading "the old boys club." Acton has been an NHL assistant or associate coach for 16 seasons, four with the Flyers, two with the Rangers, nine with the Maple Leafs and last year in Columbus.

He and Eakins worked together for two years in Toronto, and they’ve been close ever since. Eakins wanted a coach with NHL experience and someone he is familiar with, and Acton is that guy. I believe an assistant coach is only as good as the head coach allows him to be. Some head coaches like to control everything, others like to delegate. I’m not certain which one Eakins is at this point.

Bringing back both Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger doesn’t look good for the organization. Essentially they are saying only the head coach has been the issue the past four seasons. Buchberger will work under his 5th head coach in six seasons. It is rare for any assistant coach to stay employed while the head coach continually gets the axe.

How can you constantly blame the head coach for the failures of the team, while simultaneously stating the assistants are doing a great job? Unless the organization feels the players were the problem, retaining both assistant coaches is odd. I sense that that Daryl Katz has had a say on Buchberger’s involvement with the team, and that Eakins and his predecessors didn’t have free reign in who they hired.

The optics aren’t great, but Eakins did get to hire the guy he really wanted. Eakins admitted he spoke to Paul Maurice, but decided that Maurice was better suited as a head coach. It is difficult for most strong-willed head coaches to become an assistant and not have the final say.

Expect Acton and Smith to be on the bench with Eakins most of the season.

BIG BUCK BUYOUTS

Neuvirth Saves on Lightning Breakaway

 Tampa Bay surprised many when they bought out Vincent Lecavalier yesterday for a measly $32.67 million.

They bolts will pay him $4.76 million for the next two seasons, $3.76 million in 2015/2016 and then $1.76 million for the next 11 seasons.

Lecavalier is 33 and he’s averaged .80 points per game the past three seasons. He’s scored 135 points in his last 168 games. I suspect he’ll be highly motivated on his new team due to new teammates, new surroundings and he’ll want to prove he can still play.

Despite his age he is now the most attractive centre in a weak free agent class, and because of his size, skill and Stanley Cup experience I expect he will get at least a three-year deal worth $14-$16 million.

He’s the type of centre the Oilers need, but don’t expect him him in Edmonton. He’ll want to go to a playoff contender. The Habs make sense for many reasons, but so do many other teams. The Leafs have cap space and are desperate for a centre. The Canucks would like him, but they’d need to shed some salary (Luongo). The Stars have cap space, an owner who will spend money and a GM who loves veterans.

Lecavalier is allowed to talk to teams immediately, but he can’t officially sign with a team until July 5th, and I’m sure he and his agent will get a lot of calls.

Bryzgalov's Bottle

The Flyers said goodbye to Ilya Bryzgalov after only two seasons. He essentially made $39 million in two seasons with the Flyers, after they bought him for $23 million. The Flyers will pay him $1.64 million for the next 14 seasons, but Bryzgalov will likely get a two or three-year deal from someone.

Right now he’s a low-end #1 goalie. In three of his last four seasons he’s had good numbers, but this past year he had a woeful .900 SV% and a 2.79 GAA. He’s a great interview and a fun guy, but teams will be leery of his aloof attitude.

Not many teams are looking for a #1 goalie, but I could see him returning to Phoenix (Seattle/Quebec) if they don’t re-sign Mike Smith. I could see him making $3 million+ on his new deal.

The Oilers need to sign two goalies, and if they don’t land Anton Khudobin or another younger UFA, they might have to look at Bryzgalov, but I don’t see him being a fit in Edmonton.

Komisarek and Ovechkin, 8 + 8

The Leafs announced they will buy out Mike Komisarek, but they haven’t officially done it yet. The Leafs have to pay him $1.16 million for the next two seasons. He’ll get a new deal, but I don’t see it being longer than two years, and most likely a one-year pact for around $1.3-$1.5 million.

Komisarek is only 31 years old, and while his footspeed is an issue teams are always looking for experienced defenders. The Oilers don’t need another 3rd pairing D-man.

IMG_0629

Marc Bergevin had to use his 2nd buyout on a player that he didn’t acquire. The Habs were so upset with Kaberle that they didn’t want us to use a picture of him in a Habs jersey. They bought him out for $3 million and will pay him $1.5 million for the next two seasons.

Kaberle is 35, and while he is a good puck mover, there is little else about his game that scouts like at this point. Unless a GM sees something I don’t, I’d be very surprised to see him get a new contract.

Briere

The Flyers bought out Daniel Briere for ONLY $3.33 million, and considering his cap hit was $6.5 million it made sense. He’ll receive $833,333 from the Flyers for the next four seasons. Briere can still produce, especially on the PP, and he’ll likely land a two-year pact around four or five million dollars.

The Oilers shouldn’t have any interest in Briere, he isn’t the type of player Craig MacTavish needs at this point.

Rostislav Olesz was acquired by the Hawks just so they could get rid of Brian Campbell and his $7.14 million cap hit. Olesz played only six games with the Hawks the past two seasons, despite being paid $7.4 million during that time. The Hawks bought him out of the final year of his deal ($4.25 million), and they will pay him $1.41 mill for the next two seasons.

Essentially, the Hawks paid him $10.2 million to play six NHL games. Yikes.

Olesz is only 27 years old. He had 19 points in 14 AHL games this year and 41 points in 50 games last season. Some GM might take a chance on him and sign him to a one-year, two-way contract, but he seems destined to play in Europe.

No chance the Oilers look at him.

The Hawks also bought Steve Montador from the final two years of his deal. He was owed $4.1 million, but he had a cap hit of $2.75 mill and the Hawks need cap space so they will pay him $683,333 for the next four seasons.

Montador was one of Stan Bowman’s rare mistakes. They signed him to a four-year, $11 million deal in the summer of 2011, but he only played 52 games for the Hawks. Montador’s footspeed is a major concern, and if he does get a contract it will be a one-year deal for $1 million or less. If Cam Barker can get a new contract anything is possible.

QUICK HITS

  • Interesting to note that so far the only western conference team to make a buyout was Chicago. The Hawks (2), Flyers (2), Canadiens (2), Leafs (1 pending), Rangers (1) and Tampa (1) are the only teams who have used their compliance buyouts. I expect some teams to use some between the draft and the July 4th deadline. If the Oilers can’t trade Eric Belanger, there is a very good chance they will buy him out.
     
  • ESPN reported yesterday that Kris Letang turned down an eight year deal worth around $56 million. Does his agent really believe he can get $8 million/year on the open market? If he can then the GMs clearly haven’t learned any fiscal restraint. I think Letang is a very good D-man, he’s a legit top-pairing defender, but I’d be leery of paying him that much. I know most GMs will pay him based on the salary cap going up, but it is still a risky venture.
     
  • Jonathon Willis has a good piece on why he’d stay away from Dave Bolland. He brought up some great points, about potentially over paying for him. Those are valid concerns, as is the fact he is only one-year away from being a UFA. I like Bolland’s game, and I wouldn’t be worried about him rebounding after a unproductive 2013 regular seasons, but there is a risk in acquiring him. The one difference between him and Pominville is that Pominville had two more years left on his contract. Bolland only has one year before he’s a UFA. If the Oilers could get permission to talk extension before making the trade, then I’d consider it.
     
  • Congratulations to Anthony Bennett and his family. Bennett was the first Canadian drafted #1 overall in the NBA draft last night. The Cleveland Cavaliers surprised everyone when they took the UNLV freshman, but they clearly like Canadians. They took Tristan Thompson 4th overall in 2011. Canada could have the #1 pick next year as well. Andrew Wiggins is considered the best prospect since Kevin Durant. It is great to see Canada producing top quality basketball players.
     
  • The NLL relocated the Washington (Everett) Stealth to Vancouver (Langley) yesterday. This is good news for lacrosse fans, especially if you like watching it on TV. You can expect more lacrosse games on TV next year, now that there is a 4th Canadian team in the league. Look for  Sportsnet/Score to broadcast more games.
     
  • It looks like the NHL will finally pull the plug on the Phoenix experiment. Yesterday Gary Bettman said Glendale has until July 2nd to reach an agreement or the Coyotes will be done. I hope the mayor of Glendale and the councillors recognize this is a bad deal and walk away. I feel for the diehard Coyote fans, but the reality is hockey will never be financially viable in Phoenix. Seattle and Quebec seem the most likely relocation destinations, but like I wrote earlier, I’d love to see a dispersal draft. 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

  • book¡e

    For those wondering why people are critical of the two assistants being retained.

    First, it is a rarity that a head coach gets fired and an assistant coach remains. It is so rare that when 2 assistant coaches remain through a number of head coaches, there is a significant likelihood that the coaches do not have free reign to make their own hires and that someone up above is pulling the strings. Not that releasing the assistant coaches does not even come off as a negative to them as it is normal practice. They would find work elsewhere.

    Second, every aspect of the Oilers has sucked for years, and as such it is logical to suspect that the assistant coaches have been a part of that.

    Third, other than Joey Moss, every other person in the organization has been replaced over the years, so why do they stay?

    Fourth, In management and the coaching staff there are four ex-oilers out of about 7 positions. That is a strange distribution if it is a merit based system.

    Fifth, Krueger indicated that he needed an associate coach because the assistants had never really developed good coaching skills.

    They may be great assistant coaches, but its likely they are being kept due to interference from above.

    • djc

      Be carefull you dont blow your cover you sound like an NHS agent. That was a very well prepared and presented dynamc template, congratulations. There is no escape from this type of tsctic.

      Nice job.

    • StHenriOilBomb

      RE. 5TH

      Krueger apparently was involved with McTavish in looking for an associate coach. It was his suggestion.

      At no time did he have any criticism of the Assistants.

      Really – these guys are just gophers for the Head Coach, and probably Acton as well this season. It would have been more exciting to have brought in a hole new staff but I’m looking forward to seeing how this year comes down.

      Acton sounds like a good hire. I’m sure Bucky and Smith don’t make the decisions.

  • LinkfromHyrule

    Acquiring Letang (or any player of his stature) would go a long way towards making Edmonton a desired place to play for free agents. I’m a bit leery of his price though. He is turning down money that is a hair less than what 87 and 71 are getting. He’s a top end player, but he does not stir the drink in PITT, and I wonder how he would look on a team without two generational talents as centres 1 and 2?

    I guess if the price is right, I’d take him. Not convinced about overpaying dearly though.

    If he goes to TO as is rumored, would TO be looking to offload someone like Phaneuf? I think Phaneuf would be a nice fit here. He’s got his warts, but he’s an instant upgrade on all of the defencemen we have. His Hollywood fiance might have something to say about Edmonton though. Sigh.

  • book¡e

    Those buy-out amounts/terms are unreal. They go on so long they could be called pensions ffs. Need some or more of players’ compensation to be based on performance.

    Letang has 1 more year then UFA. Chatter about the cap going up quickly and by large amount. Why would he sign a big extension now when he may get his 8 or 8.5M next year if the cap goes up?

  • LinkfromHyrule

    I like the Acton hiring. Acton is an experienced NHL assistant coach and he doesn’t bring the ego that an established head coach like a Paul Maurice brings. We’ve tried the star tandem coaching strategy and it hasn’t worked. I don’t mind Smith being back but Buchberger must be untouchable. I doubt Eakins was truly given free reign to pick his entire staff because Bucky has somehow survived coaching change after coaching change and never taken the fall for anything.

    The calm before the storm is exactly how I would describe this. Mactavish promised moves and he has been very quiet so far. There have been rumours but nothing has come to fruition yet. Once he pulls the trigger on a deal, I think the dominos could start to fall.

  • Bucknuck

    You know that the team needs to start winning again when fans are frothing at the mouth because of assistance coaching announcements. Give me a friggin’ break. If they were really terrible they could be reassigned within the organization as a consultant or some other nepo-position, so I don’t buy the conspiracy. But even if I did, it’s not that friggin important. The coach is the one running the plays and calling the shots and that makes the winning or losing in his hands.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    With our Oilers being the laughing stock of the NHL for 7 yrs now, and counting.

    Is there anything legal The City of Edmonton can do to prevent the Oilers from using the city name before it? Maybe the Oilers are doing the city more harm than good linking the two entities together.

    Wouldn’t it be better to call this hockey team the…..Daryl Katz and friends Hockey Club?

    Just sayin….

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Hey OB

        You may want to tape a couple pillows to your arse this weekend. You could fall off your rocker if that blockbuster deal happens this weekend. Keep in mind, if one of the fab 5 are involved, it could be because they’ve asked to be moved.

        Is it at all possible? We won’t have to wait long to find out.

        Page 4 here we come baby!

        • TayLordBalls

          “You may want to tape a couple pillows to your arse this weekend. You could fall off your rocker if that blockbuster deal happens this weekend.”

          Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hah ahaaaaaaaaaa.

          That was the best oneliner of the year not disrespectfull, just a tinge of sarcasm and a shade of pure humor with an extra dash of snappy thrown in for good measure , who the hell gives out the prizes here at Oilersnation?? Come on give it up already, that was Classic in any era!!

          Makes me wonder if we can all throw in and get a package deal from Ikea on some round cushions for the folks who rest at the round table, just in case a random loud noise startles them and we lose the entire core in one shot, huh? Ha ha ha.

          Wow that was a funny comment , now I dont just feel old, I feel jovial and old, I am sitting on a goddam cushion as we speak, my god that one hit hard, ha ha freaking ha, thanks kiddo.

          Where is Harlie, maybe we can find him a nice banana shaped one for his new Harley he is aiming at? Gotta cover a bros back man, we are all ageing faster than Blue Freaking Cheese, last thing we want to do is take a bad fall, ha ha ha.

  • RyanCoke

    LMAO I found out who Jasmine is by accident… read the story on edmontonjournal at http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/edmonton-oilers/Edmonton+Oilers+Keith+Acton+Columbus/8592398/story.html

    and look at the comments…

    Angela Peterlin · Top Commenter · Alberta College

    Oilers have got the worst fans in the NHL. All they do is bash any move the Oilers make because Slats is no longer the GM. They’ve been bashed since Slats left and Oilers fans hate no matter who is GM or coach and they also hate players on the Oilers.

    same crap Jasmine has been spewing here repetitively.

  • Bucknuck

    Letang is a great player, and he might be worth eight million to somebody, but the Oil should take a pass. No one on this team should be earning more than Taylor Hall.

  • djc

    I have a funny feeling the way talk is going around the Oilers that they want Monahan at #7. And if he’s not there.. a trade wil be triggered… Likely with Philly. Just a guess but it sure sounds like it.

  • RyanCoke

    SETTELING THE STORM : Oilers draft the player with “Pronger type skills” and many compare his level of skill to S.Weber .Projected to be an ALL-Star “. How can you pass on a projected talent like that I ask ? Thats R.Ristolainen and I don’t see any way we will pass on him if he is available . For a second player i’d like to see us make a deal for M.Domi -character plus .

  • Eddie Shore

    I can’t wait for something to happen so we can discuss something other than who to draft and how our assistant coaches kept us out of the playoffs. C’mon Mac!

    • DSF

      Here ya go….

      Gil Roy ‏@GilroyTX 48m

      @SunGarrioch @tpanotchCSN @JoshuaCooper @Russostrib Four team trade in the works between Sens, Flyers, Preds and Wild. More detail shortly.
      Retweeted by Bruce Garrioch

      • Bucknuck

        That was just a joke because the four people are media reps for those four teams and they were trying to have a meal together. It’s not even a rumour.

        The rumour that IS something exciting (to me at least) is the one that PHI and EDM are talking about Cobourn. That would be a great addition.

  • OilClog

    Smith.. Atleast it seems he’s had a positive effect on Smid

    Bucky.. Well I can’t name a forward that has developed his on ice like performance.. I dunno.. Acton is clearly the upgrade and they made it. Good sign, Bucky will be in the skybox learning.. Hopefully.

    MacT does all the leg work for the other teams to find out who costs what.. Then they all go around him.. I would be afraid if it was Tamid T.. But it’s MacT.. he will corner and talk people into a corner, pause.. Push his glasses back into place.. And continue to educate whomever the sorry soul is that day and a trade will take place. This is my faith

  • Quicksilver ballet

    A spinoff of what DSF mentioned.

    Islanders are willing to part with the 15th, for a player who’ll help them now. Hemsky, N.Schultz, Horcoff at half price, do sumfin MacT! There’s Nurse/Monahan AND Lazar in your back pocket….go get it! Give them the pre-July 5th rights to Peckham and Whitney.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    Memo to Dallas Eakins: Hire whoever you want for associate coach, but Bucky and Stevie will be staying, right? Enjoy your stay here. Regards, Darryl, Kevin, and Craig. P.S. We will replace the training staff if you wish.

  • Jofa

    I get that Buchberger is a well-liked guy who clearly must bring a lot to the table as an assistant coach to have outlasted the revolving door of coaches, but seriously, a new voice and fresh perspective in the locker room and in the coach’s ear wouldn’t be the end of the world guys.

    Looking forward to Sunday and seeing MacTavish’s first real test as a GM. I’m cautiously optimistic, and giving him the benefit of the doubt that no trades are happening yet to better weigh out his options on draft day. Worst case scenario, we get a stud at 7, provided he doesn’t go Niinimaki on us with his first pick as GM. But he’s going to have to start pulling the trigger(s) on something soon if he wants the kind of turnover he’s led us to expect….

    Some good Oiler tracking over the next few days … Hell, with the Oil, this time of the year has been the most rewarding as a fan, full of such hope and naieve promise we are.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Saw that this morning on TSN.WTF? Goalie was not on the shopping list. And it should not be. Schneider you think is better than DD? I think that if DD had Vancouvers D in front of him he would be in the same conversation as Schneider and Crawford. DD’s save percentage does not warrant MacT wasting our Number 7 pick on Schneider. We have bigger needs to fill. Like Center. Or Left wing. Or D. Schneider over Monohan? Not a chance. I’d rather the big center. BTW when did we start giving charity to the NUCKs? They are stuck with 2 goalies. Let them eat that cap hit. They’ll have to pay to get out of that RL contract. No quarter. Let the Nucks wallow in their own filth

    • TayLordBalls

      I don’t think so , and Nurse is the same anyways – cheaper and longer period we would have him for . Mind you , I would not take Nurse at 7th either , i’d rather have Risto’s upside .

  • TayLordBalls

    The Oilers are a business success despite on ice results . I don’t forsee that aspect changing even if we continue to be a cellar dwelling team . Katz and all management would like to improve on ice performance , but that’s become a lot easier said than done .

    Maybe they should add some consultant fees to wheeler dealer types like Pocklington and Skalbania .