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

    • 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.

        • 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.

        • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?