Edmonton Oilers sign Vladimir Tkachev to entry-level deal (Update: or not)

Tkachev, Vladimir

Vladimir Tkachev has done nothing but impress since he slipped on an Edmonton Oilers jersey. Now it seems that fans can look forward to him doing it again, because he’s signed an entry-level contract with the team.

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A Balanced Response

Craig MacTavish7

This entry-level deal was well-earned.

Tkachev came to camp a complete unknown, save for the fact that he’d posted pretty decent numbers in 16 games in Russia and then come overseas and put up really nice numbers in the QMJHL (20GP, 10G-20A-30PTS). He was in camp on an invite and by all rights should have done what the vast majority of these guys do and vanished into the woodwork once he started playing games against real NHL prospects.

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He didn’t do that. Instead, Tkachev’s play at both ends of the rink was far better than that of any number of older players. He was a star at the team’s rookie tournament, and when the going got tougher in exhibition action he still found ways to stand out. One night ago, in a game where guys like Andrew Miller and Mitch Moroz and Will Acton all struggled mightily to stand out, Tkachev had no such problems, drawing multiple attackers to himself before setting up Mark Fayne nicely for the game’s opening goal.

He might only be 5’9″ and 140 pounds, but the longer he’s played for the Oilers the more difficult it has been to believe he wasn’t drafted. 


It’s easy to lose perspective on what the preseason is – a handful of games against widely varied competition. It’s useful for evaluation purposes, but it’s also no more than a snapshot. Every year somebody stands out in a meaningful way for good or bad, and it ultimately proves to be a mirage. Jesse Joensuu was that guy for the Oilers a season ago, but this is something that happens all the time in cities all across the league.

Tkachev’s junior numbers suggest a guy who should have been drafted. His performance since coming over reinforced that. But the Oilers were in a much, much better bargaining position than Tkachev. No matter how well a pint-sized undrafted dynamo plays in an exhibition series like this, it doesn’t add three inches and 50 pounds to his frame and it doesn’t change the fact that a few months ago all 30 NHL teams passed him over. Entering negotiations, the situation stood like this: A year down the road if Tkachev stayed healthy and if he played well enough, he would again have the opportunity to get drafted. The NHL club that selected him (assuming one did) would then have two more years to wait and see before being forced to make a contract decision. 

That gives the Oilers incredible leverage, and they’ve used it wisely. They didn’t make the mistake of sending a guy who by number and by eye (albeit for a brief time) looks like a player, but they also didn’t make the mistake of forgetting the way the system works. This was a chance to get a quality prospect for peanuts, and they took it. In exchange, Tkachev gets the security of an NHL contract at age 18, a luxury generally only afforded to the very best picks in any given draft class. 

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It’s an arrangement that should work out very nicely for both parties. 

This piece has been edited from its original version to clear up ambiguous wording on Tkachev’s draft status – JW. 


The deal has been ruled ineligible by the NHL. 

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  • Walter White

    The Oil are once again the laughing stock of the NHL. In most functional organizations someone would lose their job over a incident like this.

    KLowe and the Oiler braintrust (so to speak) make it very challenging to remain a fan.

  • ubermiguel

    The best part about this fiasco is from now on everytime the Oilers announce someone getting signed the Oilers fanbase will collectively think “Are you sure? Could we get a grown-up to confirm it please?”

  • Walter White

    In University Football : Why did Calgary Dinos run 2 ineligible players against the Bears and reverse a regular season 74-3 win into a 1-0 loss ? Due diligence was lacking . Does this mean our preseason wins are now all 1-0 losses due to using an ineligible player ? No , as he was allowed to come despite not having a contract . Calgary screwed up much worse than our gaffe .

  • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

    Somewhere out there Steve Tambo is having private chuckle. You hear that people are hired as CBA experts and I think with the Oilers its Scott Howson?? Please tell me if i’m mistaken. The time this kid has taken away from other prospects is the real crime here and someone needs to be fired. If this organisation wants there fans to believe in this process they need to do the right thing and take responsibility for this most unprofessional action. I for one am losing faith.

    • I also think it’s Scott Howson…….

      but fire somebody? let’s not get carried away here. Tkachev was far from solid gold….he was very skilled, but undrafted and very small. For every Marty St. Louis there are 100’s of small skilled guys who never make it…..

  • Clyde Frog

    So I am not a Shop Steward, but I do manage an office in a unionized environment; I will state for the record I have only been involved in one CBA negotiation, but I have been involved with several other large contract negotiations.

    With that being said, I don’t think the Oilers made a huge gaff… If I had to guess they probably had a different interpretation of the current rules than the league office.

    BUT, anyone saying the CBA is 500+ pages, no-one can know it all has never dealt with CBA’s… Unless the clause under discussion here is 500+ pages it doesn’t matter how big the CBA is at all. Why? Simply because when you are dealing with an issue defined by the CBA you look up the section/subsection and read it. Just that one clause, not the other 499 pages, they have zero impact on the decision you make.

    So to be clear, for the apologists the fact that Oilers could not isolate and be bothered to read the clause at issue is very worrying. I hope that they did and now are forced into a PR nightmare by backroom arguments on the interpretation of the meaning of the clause (Which is extremely common for CBA’s, especially in the Labour Relations side of things)… But if they aren’t and it was just them not looking things up, that speaks volumes to the lack of professionalism existing in the organization today.

    • Also to be clear, this is not a case of not reading a clause. This is a case of a misunderstanding due to a defined term altering the meaning of the actual term. A much much much easier mistake to make than all of the contract experts on here seem to realize.

  • Spydyr

    However on the side that blames management.

    if I was Katz and my assets were being mishandled this badly…

    I would be having a meeting asking what hell is going on and who did not see this and getting a breakdown from when Tkachev was invited to being told the contract was null and void.

    Then deciding who to replace those people with.

  • oilerjed

    This is a whole lot of noise that in the end cost absolutely nothing for the Oilers. Who cares! As Tkachev is NOT and Oiler is there not something actually Oiler related to discuss?

  • Zarny

    Did he have enough time to cash his signing bonus, seems like he had about 6 hrs to cash his chq.

    I am wondering if the union will wade into this, after all a brother might have to go without a paycheque for 3 years now as Gregor pointed out earlier.

  • wiseguy

    Sucks to lose the $150000 signing bonus but with his increased exposure and profile, can’t he sign a decent contract to play in the KHL this year and sign as a ufa next year, thereby foregoing the draft? That way, he will be paid handsomely and gets to choose which team he wants to go to as a ufa instead of being drafted.

  • Clyde Frog

    Do we care what other hockey fans think? Here are some comments from NBC sports.

    roblo76 – Sep 30, 2014 at 8:28 PM
    Lulz what a Mickey Mouse organization.

    esracerx46 – Sep 30, 2014 at 9:50 PM
    So because he didn’t play a FULL season in North America the Oilers continue to be a laughing stock. Last I checked, 1/3 of a season is still not a season.

    rmccleary97 – Sep 30, 2014 at 11:06 PM
    Good thing the Oilers are paying good money to Scott to screw up reading the CBA. Really good thing they’re paying good money to him *and* MacTavish to both screw up reading the CBA *and* not ask the league for an interpretation to make sure they understand it correctly. I guess getting someone with actual reading comprehension skills would have cost too much.

    ray2013 – Oct 1, 2014 at 12:34 AM
    For one more day, Dellows’ website would be awesome, cutting up the Oilers for making this kind of mistake. This is the kind of mistake they seem to make every year. Too bad the Boys on the Bus never learned to read well.

    So, lets say they knew all along that they were gambling…… if he e wasn’t eligible according to the CBA, and they knew it, then they acted irresponsibly. Why integrate an unsigned junior player against pros and risk him getting injured? It they missed the paragraph McT is referencing to, then it only shows their incompetency

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    For my books if I am Mr. Katz I would sign the kid to a personal contract to test hockey skates for thie same amount of money. Why just because I have a truck load of money in the bank and I want to make a rotten situation into the best one I can. Of coarse Mr. Bettina could call Russia and void a contract allowing the kid his shot no matter how improbable it is.

    • Rambelaya

      No. Otherwise they would.

      He is unsignable for the 2014-2015 season by any NHL team. He will be draft eligible next year, as he was this year. Unlikely to be passed over next year though.

  • vetinari

    So, translation on MacT’s comments:

    “Contracts are tough, man. The CBA between the NHL and NHLPA is like a phone book and we don’t have time to read the whole thing. And neither does the agents. Looks like Vladdy, and us, got our hopes up for nothing. But don’t worry. We’ll take him next year with our second or third round draft pick because we are sure that 29 other teams will pass on him again for a second draft. Wait. Is Burkie still in Calgary? Shoot. That guy will probably snag Vlad in the first round with his top 2 pick just to spite us.”

  • Clyde Frog

    This is way too funny.

    You guys are laughing stock, good luck with your draft party and year 10 of the rebuild.

    Oiler douche tell me one more time how good your gonna be.. hahahaha losers

  • wiseguy

    Sucks to lose the $150000 signing bonus but with his increased exposure and profile, can’t he sign a decent contract to play in the KHL this year and sign as a ufa next year, thereby foregoing the draft? That way, he will be paid handsomely and gets to choose which team he wants to go to as a ufa instead of being drafted.