All your centres are belong to Nashville


The Edmonton Oilers reportedly had interest in at least two different unrestricted free agent centres. Both of them ended up signing in Nashville.

Rumours and reports

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CBC’s Elliotte Friedman:

Edmonton landed two of its top targets in free agency — Mark Fayne and Benoit Pouliot. (Someone was willing to go a sixth year on Pouliot, so the Oilers went to five to get him.) They also took a run at Olli Jokinen, who took slightly less in salary elsewhere (but in a tax-free state). They’re going to look for a centre, because they don’t want to rush Leon Draisaitl for no reason.

State tax and short-term overpays

Both Friedman and Rishaug mentioned that Tennessee’s favourable tax situation gave the Predators an edge in their pursuit of Jokinen and Ribeiro. It’s worth remembering that edge Nashville gets over Alberta is awfully small, as both Edmonton and Calgary have fairly good tax situations for professional athletes:

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Here’s the other thing: Friedman specifically mentions the Oilers going to five years on Pouliot to get a deal done. Both Jokinen and Ribeiro signed one-year deals – Jokinen for $2.5 million, Ribeiro for just a hair over $1.0 million.

The Oilers aren’t in a bad cap situation, so what’s the problem with going to, say, $2.75 million for Jokinen on a one-season contract? Why not hand Ribeiro $1.25 million?

I’ll admit that Jokinen isn’t a player I’d have had much interest in if I were running the Oilers, but if he’s the player the team targeted there really isn’t any reason not to cough up the tiny bit of extra money necessary to secure his services. As for Ribeiro, the off-ice stuff is a little scary but this is a guy who was valued at $5.5 million per year on a long-term deal not all that long ago; even $1.5 million would be an incredibly low stakes bet with a significant chance of a big payout.

Nashville has a slightly better tax situation than Edmonton. That doesn’t mean the Oilers should have lost out on a centre they legitimately wanted.


  • Sorensenator

    I am thrilled so far what Mac T has accomplished. Now we have to sign Justin Schultz to a bridge deal to free some cap space for our 2L center. I am confident MacT will be able to do this. Lots of teams have an overload in the center position. Come on Mac T pull this together so we can be a playoff team again

  • pkam

    The islanders currently have about 100 players signed (OK, 16 forwards and 8 d). A number of them are centres (according to the internet at least).

    The good thing about them as a trading partner is they wouldn’t seem to need much of a present-day return, so perhaps you pry somebody loose for a prospect-pick melange. I’m not saying we’re getting Tavares for Klefbom, but Brock Nelson is listed as a center and would check a lot of boxes – does a 2nd rounder and [insert decent-ish prospect name here] get that done? What about Josh Nielson? Strome is probably hoping for too much, but he’s also a center. (Their signing of Grabovski and Kulemin is curious from this perspective).

    Any one of those guys would seem an upgrade on our current options, and unless Snow is telling his coach to ice 5 forward lines this year they would seem to be in need of unloading some viable players.

  • Spydyr

    Willis is bored column…..I know its July and we got to kill at least 6-7 weeks before we even have a hope of anything new to say in Hockeyland but really? moaning about not getting Riberio or Roy?

    I say bless you Mac-T, the last time I threw up in my mouth was when we got Belanger and Tambo was crowing like he snagged Crosby!
    Man …good times…no I do not want to relive that experiance.

  • toprightcorner

    I am pretty sure the taxes were a very small portion of the reason. Ribero can stay out of the spotlight in Nashville while he tries to put his life back together and he would also be the #1 centre with a chance at a longer contract next year.

    Jokinen knows what it is like to play in a media hotbed like Calgary and Winnipeg and probably preferred to finish his career without that same pressure.

    It will always be tough for the Oilers to attract quality veterans at the end of their career until they have a chance to go far in the playoffs. Lots of pressure in this market to win, and if a guy on the verge of retirement goes somewhere they cant win, it will be somewhere warm with no pressure to finish their career in a relaxed setting

  • Spydyr

    How is Dallas’s 5 year rebuild coming along?
    Traded for No 1.[Seguin] and No.2 center [Spezza]. Jamie Benn [ 5th rd. draft]and Olympic star.

    And we were chasing Riberio and Jokinen?

    I appreciate Oilers have a problem attracting
    star players, but goodness set your sights a little higher than that.

    I only use Dallas as example, because they weren’t hiding behind some 5, 8, 10 year plan,
    They had to make it happen , their arena was half empty, unliked OilTown.. sold out every night.

        • BlazingSaitls

          When the Oil get back in the playoffs I’d hope they are competitive. The last thing Oilers need is another team that is just ‘good enough’ to make the playoffs. We had enough of that in the 96′-02′ era. I hope MacT maintains a steady course in the right direction. I hope that by the time Oilers make the playoffs its to compete hard for the cup; not be a long shot. Leave the long shots to “rebuilt” teams like Dallas. So ya, Dallas made the playoffs..big woop. Horcoff led them in points and they were out in 6. GG

          • BlazingSaitls

            So, after what will probably be nine or ten seasons of not making the playoffs, you expect a team, whose core will in all likehood have very little playoff experience, to crash the playoff party and then knock out one of the top western conference teams. OK

          • BlazingSaitls

            just like pens, just like hawks, just like kings. All hit the scene quick and won a cup why not Oil? Kings and Hawks kept it going. Pens dropped. So yes. Recent history dictates a young team or inexperienced team or a team with a losing history can quickly become a cup contender. Over night. Quit hating on Oil man, expect a Cup not a long shot.

          • BlazingSaitls

            The Kings missed the playoffs for 6 seasons then got bounced in the first round the next two seasons before winning a cup. The Penguins missed the playoffs for for seasons lost in the first round the next season before making the cup final. Chicago missed the playoffs for five seasons before going to the conference finals in their first playoff appearance, bucking the trend of rebuilt multiple top five draft pick teams getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs in their first trip back. To call Dallas’ rebuild a failure, because they got knocked out in the first round by the best refular season team points wise in the Western Conference, is asinine.