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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  • Reg Dunlop

    I can hardly wdit for the end ‘o season happy talk from Oiler coaching and management. I love it when Tammy gets all butch and stern and makes all kind of promises for next year. Brrr…gives me the chills.

    I fully expect to hear the Oiler ‘brain-bust’ blame everything and everyone going back as far as the Comet Kahoutek(1973 AD) for the Oiler’s bad luck.

    Having read the comments above I was wondering if someone would pass me the Kool-Aid. I still want to know if Horcoff can actually play that piano tied to his ass.

  • Reg Dunlop

    To anyone who complains about the dollars committed to Horcoff, I have just one question: can you point to a single instance during the duration of his contract where salary cap concerns had an impact on the team’s performance?

    Is that why we’re missing a solid, stay at home veteran first-paring defenceman? or a Lucic type gritty top 6 forward with size and skill? Or a solid back up option for Dubnyk, or whatever else you think we need to contend?

    Is it because we don’t have the cap space to sign them, since we shot our wad on Shawn Horcoff instead?

    Didn’t think so.

  • 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.

    Seriously, who keeps putting Tambellini in front of a microphone? The man’s public speaking is as awkward and fumbling as an 8th grader asking the girl he has a crush on to the big dance (speaking from experience).

    Someone in management needs to put a shock collar on him and give him a jolt any time he opens his mouth in public.

  • Phixieus666

    There is room on this team going forward for Horcoff, atleast for the next couple years.

    The problem, like with alot of other players on this team, is that he is continually looked at for the wrong role.

    Build a balance bloody team and Horcoff would would be seen as a decent piece to the puzzle.

  • Phixieus666

    Any one else hear the Cloutier on the Buzz was saying that last nights game likely scared off DeKeyser. It made me laugh, really the team showed how incompetent they are on defense. That kid was probably sitting there thinking “man I could easily play better than three out of their top 6, I’ll be on the NHL roster for sure with this team”.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Horcoff’s skill set is something we absolutely need and don’t have a ready replacement for in the organization. Could a competent GM replace him with a guy making $2.5-3M? Probably. Should we let him go with Tambellini at the helm? Not a chance.

  • outdoorzguy

    What is stopping the oilers from trading horcoff to another team with a player who that respective team also wants to buy out but retain, then re-signing them afterwards. Assuming the Pens want to keep Martin, Horcoff for Martin, then re-signing Horcoff?

  • The Goalie 1976

    I would actually keep Horcoff for the entire contract for 3 reasons.

    1. Management has shown no ability or desire to find a equal replacement.

    2. He brings elements to the team that are sorely lacking.

    3. Because you showed loyalty in keeping him, I bet he would sign a super cheap hometown discount on a really short term extension to fill in as a 3rd or 4th line center. Think about it …. no more Smyth/Vandevelde/Petrell/not prepared rookie bleeding chances against.

    That’s just what I would do. Also at some point he would pull a Modano and give the “C” to one of the kids.

  • Phixieus666

    Horc is playing as well as I would expect him too. Obviously he is over paid for his last few years performance but he definitley is trying hard to be a difference maker…no slack ass here.
    BUT he is flat lining as a player and probably is on the down side of his performance peak. He would be a good fit for a SC challenger in the 3rd centre roll.
    If you could make a good deal for him I see no reason not too. BUT they would have to find someone in free agency to replace him and also get a solid prospect or young NHL prospect to replace him.
    I like Horc and always thought he has a lot of heart and determination. That’s why he was selected the Captain!

  • outdoorzguy

    I think we can all live with Horcoff now.
    What we can’t live with is the incompetent leadership fiasco we have, starting with Laforge right down the line and ending with Krueger. Timid Tambellini, Loser Lowe, Moronic McTavish and even Howson are just a joke.
    Anyone attending the games (I haven’t been in years, won’t give them a dime!!) should start the chant for Burke (not sure he’s the best choice, but the message will get across hopefully, then again with these idiots they’d probably think the fans are chanting for Brooke Burke!) and Ruff. Until some displeasure is shown publicly towards this management group/ownership, nothing will change. Booing the team is a start, but they can only play within the means of what management provides them. I think there is very good potential here with the core group. A few changes will go a long way. But my God, lets move this top heavy, malignant management team out the door. Our patience should be over and it’s time for results, especially after a dozen years of this crap.

  • Reg Dunlop

    The 2nd round pick that Horc would return in a trade would not help us now or in the future, given our spotty draft record. Anyway, we have to keep NHL players, jettison the crap otherwise the rebuild spins it’s wheels and we remain the league’s worst team. Wait a minute… maybe we have no NHL players.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    which brilliant managment team gave him this contract? (i’m being sarcastic). it’s like giving the captain of the titanic another ship after he’s sent your flag ship to the bottom. how many times has tambo (bozo) sunk our ship? at this point i trust a monkey’s judgment over tambo or lowe. it’s time to kick the drunken sailors off the ship before they sink us again!

  • Always been a fan of Horcoff. It’s clear what he brings to the team (and, unfortunately also what he does not). He is a very useful piece for this team. People focus on the money all the time, and that’s what I think is the biggest reason for some people not liking him. Well, the Oilers aren’t being handcuffed by his contradct, and I’m not paying the bills… so it doesn’t bother me.

    His ability to be used in any game situation makes him quite valuable to the team. If he was a bargain contract (say $2.5M or so) people would love him. So again, if he isn’t hindering us from signings, who cares? Yes, the Oilers blew that re-signing… it’s long time for people to get over it.

    That said, I do know we can improve at this position (including Horcoff, himself), but a good C is extremely hard to come by, so I don’t see him going anywhere.

    I wish fans would just embrace that, and support him rather than bagging on him. Fitting and funny quote by Ryan Jones on Horc recently. Unfortunately I don’t have exact quote. But Jones said something like, before he (Jones) came here, he had no idea that fans were so hard on Horcoff (because he thinks he is a good player). But I think that kind of speaks to our fans here. Can be pretty embarrassing to be a fan here, and not just because the team is awful.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    Let me ne the fist to suggest that Horcoff has beeen a consistently good Oiler who takes a beating from fans because Kevin Lowe offered him a golden ticket contract and he signed it.

    There’s an obvious need to refresh some of the vets on this tean, but Horc is far from the problem.