The Free Agency Live Blog

PickMe

It’s the most wonderful day of the year! CANADA DAY! Hell yeah! Of course I’m taking about free agency day and how this is the most wonderful time of year… for agents mostly. For some, free agency means a massive payday whether they truly deserved it or not. For others, they will have to wait well into August before they even get their name on the dotted line. How much will the Oilers get done? How much will they spend? We shall see.

Personally, I don’t think we’ll see Chiarelli do too much today in terms of signings. I think he will go out and put offers down, but who knows how many deals he’ll actually complete. I can see Chiarelli fishing for a guy like Cody Franson or Andrej Sekera to add a top four defenceman to our group, but I don’t see him spending a truck tonne of cake to get a guy to come here. That being said, I never would have expected David Clarkson to get all of the money a few years back so what the hell do I know?

I’m more interested to see what Chiarelli will do in terms of trades. He already cleared out Boyd Gordon for Lauri Korpikoski yesterday so who knows what will happen today? For me, part of the fun will be watching the Nation explode if the Oilers make any move of significance. Some of you citizens were so angry that Gordon got moved that I thought we were going to have to ask you to take an Internet time out. The reaction was hilarious. Can you imagine if Chiarelli moves someone from the top six? Anger be thy name. I’m ready to watch the zeppelin crash. 

Regardless of what happens we can always take refuge in knowing that we’re in this thing together. As the day moves forward, I will be your friendly correspondent (read: mediocre blogger) for the day, and will be live tweeting (@OilersNation and @jsbmbaggedmilk) as well as updating this post throughout the day. As things happen, I shall do my best to get the news up here in a timely fashion. You will find said updates at the bottom of this article in the UPDATES section. Seems simple enough. 

Anyway…

BABY GOT BACK(END) PROBLEMS 

BabyGotBack

If you take Peter Chiarelli for his word than the Oilers won’t be a big player in free agency, and they certainly won’t be handing out gold doubloons like MacT would have done (*cough* Clarkson/Nikitin *cough*). I think a conservative approach is the best approach, and although defensive upgrades are certainly a priority Chiarelli shouldn’t overpay to get them. To me, this will show the difference between having an experienced GM behind the desk as opposed to a rookie. Whether or not Chiarelli sticks to this plan remains to be seen, but I can’t see him swinging for the fences like the previous regime.

With that in mind, who could help the Oilers without having to break the bank? Jason Gregor had a breakdown of some of the best options for the Oilers yesterday, and I think his list is dead on. For me, a guy like Cody Franson or Andrej Sekera would be the best bet for the Oilers to sign a guy and improve their defence. There’s no way that the Oilers should overpay a guy like Mike Green while also having Justin Schultz on the roster. To me, Green is what the Oilers hope for Schultz to become and his contract demand would likely be sky high for many years. That’s no upgrade to me especially from a cap management standpoint. 

Sticking with the defence there are some elder statesmen that could be of interest to the Oilers provided they would sign a short term deal as doubtful as that may be. A guy like Paul Martin would be able to eat big minutes for the Oilers, but Martin is 34 years old and he’ll probably want a longer deal seeing as this could be his last. As much as I would like an experienced UFA d-mam to sign the options are limited, and history tells us that the overpay will probably end up costing us in the end.

WILL HISTORY REPEAT?

Rewind

It’s funny when you look back 12 months and take another peak at last year’s free agency. A year ago, the Oilers signed Benoit Pouliot, Mark Fayne, Keith Aulie and most of us agreed that MacT had a decent day. Not great, but not bad. He made some tweaks to the defence, added Pouliot, but completely neglected adding to the depth at centre. In hindsight it worked out great as the Oilers drafted Connor McDavid on Friday, but we all had to suffer another miserable season in the process. 

Will Chiarelli be busier than his predecessors? I doubt it. I think he’ll be in the same range as the previous regimes in that he’ll likely sign two or three guys and see what happens from there. It’s still early, but I don’t see Chiarelli as the kind of guy that’s going to back up the Brinks truck to overpay a David Clarkson. That being said, this is his first rodeo as the GM of the Edmonton Oilers and it will be interesting to see how he approaches the day. 

One thing that MacT and Chiarelli both share is that they both went into free agency with a lack of veteran depth at the centre position. With Boyd Gordon moving on to the Coyotes the Oilers have to replace him with a veteran pivot. We can’t go into this season with Nuge as the elder statesman of the group down the middle. I understand that Nugey is the world’s most powerful infant but Chiarelli will have add a veteran that can shave, and I think he will. I’d even go so far as to bet Wanye’s money* that Chiarelli already has a deal in place when the starting gun fires today at 10am MST. 

THE UPDATES…

ChiaPet

Keep your browser locked in and refreshing this page as I will be updating with all things Oilers as the day goes on. 

  • 8:00am – We wait…
  • 8:22am – Free agency doesn’t start until 10am? What the hell am I doing awake?

  • 8:44am – Nothing doing… I’m on my second ice coffee of the day and my house is already heating up. Temperatures expect to reach volcano-esk levels in here. I will prevail. Beer hydrates you, right?
  • 9:00am – One hour to go. Calgary just signed Ramo to starters money despite having a starter so this could end up being a good day. 
  • 9:01am – Pierre LeBrun is saying that the Oilers are in on Neuvirth. Obviously a Scrivens trade would be sure to follow if this would go through.
  • 9:08am – Bob McKenzie says that the Oilers are the leading candidate to score UFA defenceman Andrej Sekera.

  • 9:45am – This is your 15 minute warning.

  • 9:55am – Already too much Leafs coverage for my liking.

  • 10:05am – No Oilers moves yet. This day is a total disaster.
  • 10:08am – Maybe I overreacted.
  • 10:23am – I’m so excited to see which sucker takes on Matt Belesky. McKenzie has him asking for $5mil x 5 years. HIS CAREER HIGH IS 32 POINTS! Amazing.
  • 10:25am – Gord Miller reporting that both Letestuu and Sekera are close to signing with the Oilers.

  • 10:28am – This Sekera news has me going from six to midnight. No news on money or term yet though. Sweatpants may loosen once again depending on those numbers.
  • 10:38am – Paul Martin to San Jose on a 4-year deal. Too old (34) for that much term in my opinion.
  • 10:40am – Per Aaron Ward, Andrej Sekera signs in Edmonton for 6-years at $5.5 million/per.

  • 10:50am – With Sekera signed there’s no way that the Oilers don’t clear out some kind of salary on the back end. If it’s Nikitin I may drive to Oilers HQ and kiss Peter Chiarelli on the mouth.

  • 10:56am – Twitter reporting that Kessel has been moved to Pittsburgh. That’s a huge trade, if true.
  • 11:23am – If I were to bet I would use Wanye’s money to guess that the Oilers won’t be doing much else in terms of signings today. There has to be a trade coming though, right? There’s too much money on the back end (by that I mean 3rd pairing, of course) and Chiarelli has to clear some of that out. He doesn’t have to do it today, but it is coming. 
  • 11:32am – By the way… Hilarious return for Kessel by Toronto. They get a 1st round pick (likely be a middle of the round pick), a 3rd, and a couple of prospects (Kapanen/Harrington). Toronto will also be eating 15% of Kessel’s salary. NOT TO MENTION! Toronto also sent Pittsburgh a 2nd round pick in addition to Kessel. Maybe Toronto should look at getting a GM with experience before making these kind of deals?
  • 11:42am – The Oilers are quiet… Too quiet?
  • 11:51am – It’s pretty amazing to think that Chiarelli has added seven (SEVEN!) players to the roster without giving up a single roster player apart from Gordon. I wasn’t as sold on Marincin as others.
  • 12:05pm – Richard Bachman signs a deal with the Vancouver Canucks. I’m assuming that’s for their AHL affiliate but what do I know? I’m still not sure the Canucks know what they’re doing with goalies. What this tells me is that the Oilers are going to lean heavily on Brossoit, and it will be an important developmental year for him.
  • 12:20pm – I wonder how much of Nikitin’s salary they would have to retain to find a trade partner? Has to be close to 50% right?
  • 12:21pm – STORTINI SIGHTING! #HuggyBear

  • 12:22pm – Glen Sather steps down as GM of the Rangers. He stays on as president of the team.

  • 1:00pm – The Buffalo Sabres sign Jack Eichel to his 3-year entry level deal.
  • 1:42pm – The GM press conferences are starting, and I’m wondering when we’ll see Peter Chiarelli speak. No way he’s done working the roster but it doesn’t all have to get done today.

  • 2:15pm – I’m hoping Peter Chiarelli finds a way to clear some cash on the back end today but I doubt that’s going to happen. #SadPanda  
  • 2:18pm – Chiarelli presser is happening at 4:15 MST so there’s still time for something to happen. We wait.
  • 2:45pm – Former Oiler Marcobello signs a 1-year deal with the Leafs for $1.1 million.
  • 3:15pm – Chiarelli at the podium. I’m live tweeting the presser at @OilersNation.

RECAP…

I don’t think Chiarelli is done for one minute, but he might be done for today. Judging by his presser, and some of the answers he gave, there will still be more activity going forward. Free agency just started this morning and there are a few months to go before any pucks drop. I can’t imagine a scenario in which Chiarelli doesn’t clear out some of that money on defence. Who moves? Naturally, Nikitin is the most logical target but who will have the space to take on the last year of his contract? We wait. Regardless of what changes are coming on defence, Chiarelli has shown that he is not scared to make moves and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

So much for 80% of MacT’s roster coming back this season…

*don’t tell Wanye.

  • pkam

    Was just on the Canucks Army site while things slowed down here. 29 comments total on 5 posts made today.
    Seems the Canucks fans are losing their passion. Thank you Chia, Mclelland, McDAVID and Oilers Nation. Its nice to be excited about the Oilers again.

  • Oilers4ever

    Riding the ole ferry across to Vancouver Island for two weeks with the gf and 7 kids.. Gonna be a blast. Glad to see Chiareli is making some solid moves.

  • Oilers4ever

    Riding the ole ferry across to Vancouver Island for two weeks with the gf and 7 kids.. Gonna be a blast. Glad to see Chiareli is making some solid moves.

  • Oilers4ever

    Riding the ole ferry across to Vancouver Island for two weeks with the gf and 7 kids.. Gonna be a blast. Glad to see Chiareli is making some solid moves.

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    I was pretty unsure about Chiarelli after the Reinhart over payment. Sekera is another over payment but needed. Remember when Sekera was in Buffalo? I felt he topped out there. When we was in Carolina I thought he was at his absolute peak. He played really well in LA and I figured they were getting the best they could out of him. Maybe he’ll have another step in Edmonton and this will be completely fair value. Either way, I’m glad Chiarelli got it done and we will have fewer holes on the back end.

    Hell, by the end of the summer we might even look like a team that could make the playo…wait!!! I don’t want to jinx it.

  • Van isl Oiler

    Long time reader, first time commenting. I’ve gotta say, I’m pretty impressed with Mr. Chiarelli so far. The only thing I’ve really been sceptical about is the trade for Griffin Reinhart, but the more i think about it and the more i talk with my Oilers buddies (there’s not a lot of us here on Van Is) about it, the more i realize that its a very good calculated risk. I am optimistic for the up coming seasonn, but cautiously optimistic.