There’s a dichotomy that seems to exist between people who spend a lot of time covering the Edmonton Oilers and others who have a more general knowledge of the team. In my experience the former camp, by-and-large, seems pretty content with the deals that the Oilers reached with their best young forwards. The latter camp tends to see them as a mistake.
Granted, there are exceptions. The Edmonton Oilers tied up $18 million a year, long term, in Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. But I don’t think the Oilers would be so quick to eat up that much cap space if they had a do-over.
I’m not convinced that’s true. Taylor Hall is a tremendous talent, and because the Oilers were willing to do a big second contract they were able to buy three UFA years. If they’d offered a one-year bridge deal instead, would they have been able to sign Hall to a six-year, $36 million contract this summer? It seems exceptionally unlikely; he’s great value.
Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are perhaps a little more debatable because they aren’t Taylor Hall but in each case Edmonton gambled and bought UFA years at a price likely to be lower than it would be in the future. In the meantime, the salary space taken up by those deals hasn’t prevented the Oilers from spending a pile of money in free agency on guys like Benoit Pouliot, Mark Fayne and Nikita Nikitin.
Long second deals are a calculated risk – and honestly, given Johansen’s NHL track record, it’s easy to see why a Blue Jackets writer wouldn’t see the trade off as worthwhile. In the Oilers’ cases, so far it looks like a gamble that was worth making.
Mike Grier to coach USA Hockey Prospects Game
Mike Grier was a fan favourite during his time with Edmonton, and understandably so. Lowetide wrote a great career profile last April, which includes the oft-repeated story of Grier screaming in pain after his shoulder was knocked out of its socket, getting it put back in on the bench and then returning to play his next shift two minutes later. Ridiculous stuff.
Grier is a youth coach these days, and has been doing some on-ice work for USA Hockey. Earlier this week, he was named a head coach for a top prospects game featuring 42 of the best U.S.-born players eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft. He’ll be coaching opposite former Pittsburgh Penguins bench boss Ed Olczyk.
It’s a nice nod for a coach at the start of his career behind the bench, and hopefully a portent of things to come.
Hockey Canada adds Misha Donskov
Tom Renney has made an interesting hire to replace Andrew Brewer, the 28-year-old video coach who left Hockey Canada to join Mike Babcock’s staff in Detroit. Renney has tapped OHL coach Misha Donskov for the role; Donskov previously worked for NHL teams in Atlanta and Columbus and has held a variety of roles with the London Knights and Ottawa 67’s.
One of Dosnkov’s new jobs is to provide Hockey Canada with (unspecified) analytics data, which is something that Renney noted in conversation with The Canadian Press’s Steven Whyno.
“We knew that because of the skills that [Donskov] brought to the table that [statistical analysis] was an avenue we could even explore that much deeper,” Renney said. “I don’t know that analytics is always solution-based, but it certainly has a great deal of information to it and really in-depth information. I think with that in mind I wanted to make sure that we could at least pursue that to a point with the skill that was required. Misha delivers on that, we think.”
It’s always difficult to tell when comments on analytics are just lip service, but Donskov’s old team has a reputation for an interest in the numbers. The 67’s employ Matt Pfeffer in an analytics role; he’s the guy behind ProgressiveHockey.com.
RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS
- Sean Monahan is more cautionary tale than guiding light for Leon Draisaitl
- The Oilers don’t have much in the way of goalie prospects, but it may not matter
- Draisaitl, Yakupov and Edmonton’s middle-six dilemma
- Justin Schultz’s role on the Oilers blue line
- 2014-15 goals projection series: Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Perron, Pouliot and Purcell, Yakupov, Arcobello and Draisaitl, Forward overview, Defence overview.
- Follow Jonathan Willis on Twitter