Garage sales are terrific for buyers with a sharp eye for a bargain and the ability to sort through junk that’s destined for the landfill and find something useful for pennies on the dollar.
They’re not so great for sellers for the same reason – you bundle up a bunch of stuff you thought you wanted or needed and paid perfectly good money for not so long ago, throw it out on tables beside the family Buick and grind away trying to recoup as much money as you can.
Something, say a dime on the dollar, is probably better than nothing for the home haircut kit or Zamfir Pan Flute CD collection the little woman bought on the Home Shopping Channel, but a loss is a loss is a loss.
The way I see it, this off-season is shaping up much like that for Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish, who is going to have to sell-off players at less than 100 cents on the dollar if he wants to gather the pieces he needs to fill-in holes on his roster and re-shape his hockey team.
POSITION OF WEAKNESS
With a 28th-place finish in the books, the Oilers out of the playoffs for an eighth straight season and fans rightfully expecting significant improvement moving forward, it does not take a vast intellect to understand MacTavish is not dealing from a position of strength.
So, what does MacTavish have to offer? Everybody, it seems, wants Sam Gagner gone. I get that. Some fans are of the mind they’re willing to take a chance and part with Nail Yakupov if he’ll land MacTavish what he needs. I get that, somewhat reluctantly, as well.
That said, what is Gagner, who is coming off a season in which he struggled mightily to recover from a broken jaw and produced 10-27-37 in 67 games, going to get MacTavish in return? A whole lot of next-to-nothing, that’s what.
What about Yakupov, 20, who finished the 2012-13 season red-hot but went ice-cold under Dallas Eakins, managing just 11-13-24 in 63 games before an ankle injury put him out? Is there any way at all MacTavish gets anything resembling fair value for Yakupov now? No.
WHAT TO DO?
Let’s forget the bargain table for a second and look at the primo stuff behind the counter. Is MacTavish willing to part with any of the pieces of his core – Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle or maybe David Perron – to get what he needs? What’s the return for them? What about the third overall draft pick?
There isn’t a GM in the NHL with a functioning brain stem who doesn’t know MacTavish is in a bind. Even if he’s willing to move one of his core players or the draft pick to make a splash, and I’m not so sure he should, he’s not going to get fair value. While there are a handful of have-not GMs in the same boat as MacTavish, most have considerably more leverage.
How about a package deal? Maybe, but MacTavish can’t offer up a bunch of junk – hey, how about a five-for-one deal for a top-two defenseman? – and expect to get anything of significance in return. No chance. No way.
So, barring the possibility of finding a gem or two via free agency in a thin crop of UFAs this summer — and overpaying for them — how does MacTavish significantly re-shape this team between now and training camp without getting fleeced by a savvy buyer?
Pennies on the dollar.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.