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

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:

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.


  • Gordie Wayne

    Peter Mueller (6’2″ 205 pounds)

    Arguments for:
    – Former 8th overall pick (pedigree is there)
    – Rookie year: 22 G, 32 A in 81 games as a 19 year old
    – Has 5 years pro experience
    – Entering prime at age 26
    – Led Swiss league in goals last year

    Arguments against
    – Injury issues (concussions from 2+ years ago)
    – He is perceived as a better winger than a Center

    At best if he works out, he will be able to fill in as a 2/3C on this version of the Oilers team.

    At worst, he is a better player than Joensuu all around and can replace him on 4th line wing.

    Wouldn’t it be worth a shot at a 1 year 1 million dollar contract?

    • pkam

      Talking about pedigree, isn’t Barker 3rd overall in 2004? How does that work out for you?

      He had 22-32-54-81 as a rookie at 19 but was never able to reproduce anywhere near it. Didn’t Gagner have 49 pts in his rookie year at 17? Gagner is at least able to reproduce at the same level and fans here are not happy. Can you imagine the fans reaction if Mueller was an Oilers with these numbers, 54 pts in 81 games, followed by 36 pts in 72 games, then never produced more than 20 pts again?

      If I remember correctly, Omark also led the SEL scoring the year before we brought him back for the last time.

      I guess 1 year at 1M wouldn’t hurt as we can always send him to the minors.

    • ubermiguel

      Not arguing about Mueller being a good choice or not (I’ll take almost any NHL-calibre centre at this point), but “pedigree” is for racehorses and draft-busts. Patrick Stphan and Alexander Daigle had pedigree.

    • Mike Krushelnyski

      If MacT can’t get the guy he wants through trade, I’d much rather have Mueller as a consolation prize than Ribero or Jokinen. Best case scenario you get 5+ years out of Mueller as a 2/3 C which is much more than you can say for the other guys.

  • Spydyr

    The only move that really works is to make a trade to fill an obvious need on your team.It is something good organizations do.

    That it is even being discussed going into the season with the centres the team has at present shows how dysfunctional most people perceive “The Braintrust” to be.Some don`t even see they are doing it.

    • Craig1981

      There are two reasons you might be wrong (though you might be right).

      1. We have no idea what the trade market is right now. If the asking price is Nurse for a 2nd line center (which it might be) waiting is the correct move

      2. If the Oil believe there is a good chance Arco can be a 2nd line center and holding on to tradeable assets would be more of a benefit to address team needs midway through the season waiting is the correct move.

      • Spydyr

        1)It is the GM`s job to make a good hockey trade.The present one has not shown that ability on a constant basis IMO.

        2)If Acro is the answer the questions is:

        Why did the team go into the season with such a weakness up the middle and miss the playoffs yet again.

        • Craig1981

          1) what?!? You understand the other GM’s in the league are professionals in the top tier of their occupation. This isn’t EAsports. MacT has made several GREAT trades (Perron, scrivens, Fasth, Henricks). That’s a good trade every 3 months of his tender. How constant do you want?!?! Name 3 others GM’s that have made a better series of trades the last 12 months!!

          2) IF Arco plays the way he did for the first 1/4 of last season (and I’m not saying he will) he will not the the reason why they would miss the playoffs.

          • Spydyr

            Funny how other GM`s have managed to make hockey trades.Dallas picked up Seguin(a very good young center)last year and it was not on NHL14.It was a real hockey trade.They do happen.Just not here very often.

          • Craig1981

            Soooo I asked you to list me 3 GM’S that have made a better series of trades than MacTs Perron, Fasth, Scrivens, Henricks trades in the last 12 months….. and you listed one trade….. I will presume because you can’t…… I accept your apology.

            And as your reply to Jeremy, it was a 2nd, 2 3rds, and a 5th rounder. not 1st and 2nd AND for those that follow hockey it was a poor draft year. The odds of finding success this year was very low….. totally a different deal next draft. I would bet my hat those 4 picks don’t turn out better than Perron, Fasth and scrivens (or give us better puns from Principe). Of all his mistakes not one of them hurt us long term.

          • toprightcorner

            How is the Perron trade not a hockey trade? How was Dubnyk for Hendricks not a hockey trade? That’s 2 ‘hockey trades’ in one year. Also, Gagner for Purcell is yet another hockey trade, bringing the total to 3.

            You are just so biased and dishonest with your comments. They are ridiculous. Even your above crap with all of Mac T’s “mistakes” are all pure conjecture with absolutely zero attention paid to any facts, reports, data, or even outcome.

            Mac T went into last season believing goal tending was suspect, but Dubnyk’s numbers were solid. Better than average actually. The guy fell off a cliff, and since Mac T doesn’t have a crystal ball, there’s no way he could have known. But he did something about it when it was clear.

            Smid’s contract was unnecessary given all the superior left side D prospects the Oilers have coming up. Marincin was much better than Smid for a fraction of the cost. If you think that’s bad asset management, you don’t know what asset management is.

            Grebeshkov and Belov were both on one year deals. Them not being spectacular did not hurt the team in any way. Other than Acton and Larsen, both of whom are gone, name one more ex Marlie.

            Finally it came out today there was a team willing to give Pouliot six years. Mac T did what he had to do to get his man. At 4 mill per, that is not an overpay. And in two years when the cap is up, that will look like a pure bargain basement contract.

            The team did not do better with Eakins as coach, but considering they were short Nuge and Gagner coupled with bad goal tending for like the first 2 months, I don’t think that;s all on the coach. You’re also comparing the team to the previous year in a lock out season. I don’t think that’s a valuable direct comparison.

          • Craig1981

            I’m not surprised you stopped reading. That seems like the type of thing someone like you would do. After all, why read and learn something when you can just stop and continue believing your baseless opinions.

            If you want to talk about records, then why not look at the records of the players mac T brought in. Perron, career year. Gordon, career year. Hendricks, career year extrapolated over 82 games with the Oilers.

            You can talk all you want about how the team needs to improve. Good job pistol whipping a blind kid. But your comments were specifically aimed at the terrible job Mac T was doing, and it’s not true.

        • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

          Yeah I mean getting two nhl caliber goalies for mid round picks, perron for peanuts, and getting something for a player you fans ran out of town all in just over 1 year are not good hockey trades. What a dumb comment “IMO”

          • Spydyr

            A high first round pick and a high second round pick is peanuts.OK then.No wonder some people here think this team is doing all the right moves.Despite a record that indicates the exact opposite.

            What about his mistakes:

            Eakins,going into last season knowing his goaltending was suspect it cost the team the sason was over before October,the Smid trade,all the ex-Marlies,Grebeshkov,the Belov and Jones handling those players could not leave town fast enough,now this year the massive overpay with Pouliot.Get back to me in a few years and let me know how you feel about that one.Finally the team regressed under his watch.

          • I should not waste my time with such dumb comments but I will, MPS had MANY CHANCES to prove he was a top 6 here and he could not, hell how is he in St Louis ? if you do not think Perron is MILES better than MPS and a magic bean 2nd round pick then you are dumb. Next you want to whine about goaltending yet taking what we know now (and I know for whiners like you it is hard to take your hindsight blinders off)does it make any sense for a gm to dump a goalie that had very good numbers last year (that were also improving year by year)before the beginning of the year, if you think that is a good idea once again you are dumb. I also love you sit there and cry about the Belovs jones grebeshkovs – WHO CARES, these are dime a dozen players that EVERY TEAM does the same with, but you ignore that fact too. As for the Smid trade do you not think there may have been something else to it, and just perhaps both took the high road or hell maybe Mac T just belives it was a bad contract and wanted to get out of it, but you will complain about that too.

            I would also love to hear how the team has truly regressed under him from a year ago to today, did it get smaller ? – nope, did the goaltending get worse ? nope did the get worse ? nope, oh I know the centre position, yes that 2nd line centre position is why this team regressed I forgot. Keep running your mouth about how terrible everything is without using what little brain you actually have and think that the world is NHL 14.

            Finally since you know so much tell me what “hockey trades” he should have made, let’s hear how you would have got tyler seguin for nothing, tell me how you would have got PK Subban here, let’s hear it

          • Spydyr

            I should not waste my time with such dumb comments but I will.

            I will explain regression to you.

            The team went from 24th overall to 28th overall despite playing tougher Western conference teams exclusively.

            They went backwards or regressed.

            That is a fact.

          • BlazingSaitls

            You’re getting quite worked up over the MacT posts, but then again its July, the dregs of the summer. Can’t say I totally disagree with either of the two arguments re MacT as both make some good points.

            Personally I give MacT a lot of credit for many of the moves he’s made, but also think he’s made a few shall we say, less than stellar moves.

            Probably the worst of the bunch was hiring the rookie coach with limited to no track record of success for the young Oilers team. Eakins talks a great game but seems to be lacking in some of the finer details of the game and I think overall the team suffered last year. Sticking with him this year is probably a good thing because of the coach turnover lately, but if things don’t start to gel in the first month or two changes will need to be made.

            Some of the other moves looked great last year but we’ll see how they work out this year and going forward. The goalies, i.e. Scrivens came in leading the league in Save%, had a couple great games, got signed, then proceeded to tail off with less than replacement numbers to end the season at just about average overall. Hopefully Scrivens and Fasth can keep up decent numbers and provide a long-term solution for the next few years.

            The Smid deal got rid of something sorely sorely lacking on the Oilers, a tough defenseman, albeit at a high contract, replaced him with rookies (not that bad an idea while rebuilding), and freed up $s to overpay for a couple other players to fill other holes.

            I give MacT credit for working hard, it certainly looks like the team is improved, but the results are just the opposite. Hopefully the team starts fresh and injury-free this Fall so you won’t have the built-in excuse if the year doesn’t turn out as expected.

            Also like some of the coaching changes, but need to see results next year to see if they actually help.

            One thing I will say, and personally I think this is a problem, is MacT has stayed with the core (Fab5) he started with, trying to tweak things around the edges. Now that the edges are better we’ll get to see if that works or more significant changes need to be made. The Seguin acquisition, and subsequent Spezza deals were MAJOR trades for Dallas which totally reshaped their team, and they’ve improved dramatically as a result.

            The fun thing about the NHL and all this talk about who did what to whom and when is we get to see the results first-hand, starting next season. Hopefully the Oilers do break out. Its long overdue, but certainly no sure thing with all the MacT “successes” to date…

          • pkam

            Don’t waste your finger muscles on Spydyr. He’s a pretty passionate guy and knows his team well. Unfortunately he’s become pretty disillusioned with this team and can’t see past the negatives. The summer should be us as fans discussing the possibilities of the team. There will be plenty of time for pointing fingers later.

  • Craig1981

    I think fans should recognize this and realize how important it is to support your team and it’s players.

    When stories like when someone started insulting eakin’s in front of his young daughter get out it hurts the signings……on the other side when the entire city cheers and goes Stanley Cup crazy, as we did in 2006 or celebrates a player like we did for Smyty it helps the likely hood of signings

  • Serious Gord

    It isn’t just taxes – it’s the cost of living. Housing and cars and other big ticket items are much cheaper in the south than in EDM. And food other non-durables and things like electronics are as well.

    Factor those things in and EDM falls much further down the list.

    • The Soup Fascist

      The price of electronics is the key. I can confirm this because David Legwand’s hair stylist is my second cousin’s wife’s aunt.

      Legwand passed on Edmonton because the price of Samsung tablets and blue tooth speakers were, as he said, “waaaay cheaper in Ottawa”.

      If only Katz owned Best Buy instead of Rexall Drugs. Imagine …..

      “Paul Stastny? Katzey here. You know that 3D Sony big screen you been Jonesin’ for? I can hook you up. Just a little matter of this hockey contract”


    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      ^veteran NHL players generally don’t have to worry about those things like the average slob does because they have made millions upon millions since they started playing. some just seem to want to play where there is no pressure and where they won’t be as recognised and that’s fine, but not the types of players i wanted on this team, although it seems MacT has been pursuing Jokinen and Ribeiro.

      • Serious Gord

        I beg to differ. A mansion in North Carolina costs about what a decent four bedroom house in EDM does. That puts an extra mill in ones pocket. High end cars, rvs etc are all at least 20% or more less and rvs to give mom and dad could run north of 500000 in cda and cost 300″000 in PHX. Compared to the relatively small differences in tax between EDM and the south the cost of living is far more impactful.

        • 24% body fat

          But there is equity in the house and he can sell and buy a new one at 38 when he is done hockey and live where he wants. So housing prices are somewhat irrelavant.

          As for the Cars, he has money. Buy it in the States and have it shipped if it is still cheaper.

          I get the cost of Living thing but it is lower on the importance scale of factors of chosing a team.

          The tops are (mostly in this order)

          Do I get to play without going to the minors or being waived

          One way contract


          Team (Are we going to win, coach, history, location)

          City (quality of life, personal preferences)

          Role on team

          Taxes or Net pay

          • Serious Gord

            I’m not saying COL is a major influence – rather that it is just as if not more important than the tax rate.

            As for housing – which is riskier – equity in a house in EDM or in Florida? Or PHX? Meanwhile for the same dough you are living in a place tow to three times as nice.

            Buying and shipping cars across the continent or across the border is a big PIA – especially new ones.

        • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

          When you’re jet setting across the continent a couple dozen times per year, I don’t think you’re worried about the deal your local car dealer can get you.

          Edit: Ondrej Pavelec did a radio ad for a Winnipeg Cadillac dealer a couple years ago. I’d imagine that was worth a decent discount on whatever he wanted to drive.

  • Spydyr

    I would rather go without than go with wrong. If CM really wanted either one of these two he had the means to get them. Nashville’s room might be able to handle what these guys might bring better than the Oiler’s at this point.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I was shocked Poille took a flyer on Ribero, concidering everything has always been team first and by committee there. I expect healthy scratches for family reasons by Christmas, missed meals and bus rides. Supposedly his problems last year is marital.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    “if you get too cold, i’ll tax the heat”….classic!! and sung by the best voice on the Beatles in my opinion….George Harrison!

    i think Ribeiro and Jokinen were just too chicken to sign here, but the Oilers can do better than those 2 and i agree with Ca$h that Olli was probably tired of playing on the prairies anyway.

  • Serious Gord

    I am not really enamoured with either player. We constantly read these articles on centers, etc. I know its slow, but good grief. Trade targets have been mentioned, and there not much better. I’d frankly give a real shot at Hall at Center. I know he is the best LW in hockey, yadayadayada. This is a team overloaded with 2nd and 3rd line wingers, so they could insulate Hall.

    June 30th I was quite happy with Draisaitl as I did not have expectation of making the playoffs. I don’t see him going back, I don’t believe the Oilers management is concerned with plan B if be is not ready.

    I don’t see a Ribero as an upgrade on Gagner, and Olli won’t get you into the playoffs. There is no suitable options for 2nd line center. I think the only realistic options are LD, Arco, Lander, Hall.

    • pkam

      IMO Oilers need to get away from the “one-big-line” Hall-Nuge-Ebs fetish…other teams know if you shut it down you beat the Oilers 9 times out of 10.

      A more balanced approach would see tandems with interchangeable parts for the third piece depending on the line matchups, size/skill/speed of the team being played. Perhaps something like:


      Yakupov, Purcell, Gazdic, etc to slide in with each pairing interchangeably depending on need.

      • Sorensenator

        Just no to Hall at center. Why take arguably the best LW in the game and force him to play somewhere else. The fact is Hall-Nuge-Eberle is the only line we know works together. Hopefully the new pieces in Pouliot and Purcell will provide some more secondary scoring.

        I have no problem with mixing lines every once in a while but at the end of the day our three best players play their best together

        • pkam

          Loading all your eggs on one line with structural weakness through the rest of your line-up is what the Oilers have done repeatedly through the last few years e.g. see LAK, SJS, STL, COL etc.

          Developing a more balanced approach to both offense and defense through all 4 lines (or certainly the top 3) will make the Oil harder to defence against, provide more balanced scoring, support better development of young players, and enable Draisaitl to be more sheltered and protected on the third line.

          • Craig1981

            Even with the teams you mentioned, they all still played their top players together most of the time. I’m not saying splitting the wealth is a bad thing. Throughout this season I am sure we will see them all play in different spots in the lineup.

            The difference you see with these other teams is they have depth and players with a variety of skillsets. Even when you split Hall Nuge and Eberle up, you are still relying on three players to produce for you. This team needs guys like Yakupov, Purcell, and Pouliot to produce.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Enough with the pity party already. Anyone up in arms about Olli, Roy and Ribiero not being in Oilers silks is missing what this team needs.

    Roy is a small oft-injured forward who has not been an NHL calibre player in two years. Ribiero’s ice off issues are well documented. Even casting that all aside, is he the guy you want going to battle with every night? The calming veteran presence your young players need? And finally Jokinen. Remember when we all belly laughed when Calgary was dumb enough to bring him back after his big contract and indifferent play?

    None of these guys was going to benefit the team to any extent and ALL have the ability to be a detriment, based on recent stints on other teams. Good riddance.

    The Oilers have two choices. Trade for something that passes for a relevant NHL center or fly with a talented but untested rookie and a smurf-like guy who tries hard and has shown flashes of NHL ability.

    My first choice is the trade. But I like Arco and Leon better than any of the three boat anchors Nashville signed.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      ^bang on! i laughed pretty hard when Calgary was DUMB enough to bring Jokinen back a SECOND time! and Ribeiro seems to be a flake and i really didn’t want him here. and i just don’t understand why some Oiler fans would even consider Derek Roy? he’s exactly what the Oilers DON’T need….small, soft, injury prone and not as productive as he once was and not worth the money or term he likely wants.

        • Serious Gord

          You are a lucky guy Steve.

          You didn’t have to wade through the drivel posted here last week. Mindless trolls telling Oiler fans that their team had missed out by not signing all that junk.

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          i frequent many hockey sites as well as listen all day long to TSN 1260 at work and i have heard several fans bring up Roy’s name as someone the Oilers could potentially sign.

    • The Last Big Bear

      All they’re saying is that they won’t be in the limelight AND get great tax benefits similar to Edmonton. They get to have their cake and eat it, too!

  • Serious Gord

    I felt that the reason given (better tax rate in Nashville) was pretty speculative; I don’t recall hearing that directly out of a camp, just from the reporter, so take it with a grain of salt. Ribiero specifically mentioned wanting to stay out of the limelight as his first priority at this point in his life is saving his marriage… harder to do that under the microscope in Edmonton.

    Same thing with Olli. He’s been run out of Winnipeg once and Calgary twice, I suspect he’s tired of it and was looking forward to returning closer to his roots (Florida, where he had his greatest success).

    Hard to read “better tax situation” and immediately assume an extra quarter million would have solved all of Edmonton’s problems.

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      To be fair, Winnipeg didn’t really run Olli out of town. People here are surprisingly indifferent about him, and they know that Chevy’s track record means we’re not getting a replacement from outside the system.

    • Crackenbury

      Bang on! The reasons you have given are much more likely as to why they didn’t sign here. Just because you want someone, doesn’t mean they want you.