The NHL made a wise decision when they allowed teams to openly talk to unrestricted free agents one week prior to July 1st. We all knew teams spoke to UFAs prior to July 1st, but now it is legal and it allows teams to bring players to their city and show them around and have lengthy conversations in comfort without being worried about being caught.
The Oilers invited Milan Lucic and Jason Demers to see the sites, because they aren’t “allowed” to discuss actual contracts. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
It is smart to bring them in, but Chiarelli needs to be cautious when they start discussing money and term.
Championship teams are rarely built via free agency. Their star players are drafted.
Chicago drafted their core of Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Toews, Kane, Crawford. They drafted many other complementary players who helped win them three Cups in six years, but the only free agent signing they made of note was Marian Hossa. He rounded out their team. They did sign Brian Campbell as well, but after a major overpay they traded him away a few years later and were lucky the GM who signed him (Dale Tallon) in Chicago was the new GM in Florida.
The Kings drafted Doughty, Quick, Kopitar and Brown. Their other picks included Voynov, Toffoli, Pearson, Martinez, King, Clifford, Lewis and Nolan. They traded for Carter, Richards, Greene, Stoll and Gaborik. Their big free agent signing was Jake Muzzin when he was 20 and playing junior. He was drafted by the Penguins in 2007, didn’t sign, went undrafted in 2009 and the Kings signed him in January of 2010.
The Penguins drafted Crosby, Malkin, Letang Fleury and Murray. Some other picks included Maatta, Rust, Kuhnackl and Pouliot. They traded for Kessel, Kunitz, Bonini. Hornqvist, Hagelin, Daley, Dumoulin, Cole Schultz and Lovejoy. Their UFA signings included Eric Fehr ($2million/year) and Matt Cullen (one year at $800,000) and Connor Sheary to an $668,000 ELC as a free agent NCAA player.
I’m not saying you avoid free agents, but you need to make wise decisions when courting them.
Tampa Bay made an excellent decision signing Anton Stralman to a six-year deal worth $4.5 million/year. He’s their second best D-man. Of course, they also signed Matt Carle to a six-year pact in 2012 worth $5.5 million/year, and that hasn’t worked out nearly as well.
The Oilers landed Andrej Sekera last year at $5.5 million for six years. He is a solid D-man, but overpriced, and if the Oilers land Demers they can’t afford to overpay him as well.
Lucic has many good qualities, but I find it interesting how many believe the Oilers can sign him and then just trade away Taylor Hall and get good value in return. Chiarelli has been trying to get good value for the past six weeks and it hasn’t happened.
If he signs Lucic, every other GM knows he will have too much money tied up on LW. Why would they suddenly want to give Chiarelli fair value for Hall?
I’d by very leery of putting the horse before the cart. Signing Lucic and then trading a LW and expecting to get good value would be ideal, but I’m not sure how likely it is.
It is possible Chiarelli had a trade offer he liked for Hall (I would need to see it occur, to actually believe there is one), and if Lucic informs the Oilers he’ll sign here then Chiarelli could pull the trigger, but I’ll admit I’ve very skeptical of such a scenario existing.
The other factor is the length of Lucic’s deal. I’m fairly confident he has at least three quality years left and maybe four, but year five and six would is cause for concern. Right now there is zero concern that Hall won’t be a bargain for the remaining four years of his deal. He is one of the few value contracts on the Ollers today.
On the other side of the argument Chiarelli can’t worry about five years from now. He can worry about that in five years. That is a valid point. Maybe Lucic will be like Shane Doan and continue to produce at a high level until he was 33. Doan is still productive at 38. Lucic doesn’t skate as well as Doan, but I can see where Chiarelli makes a move not worrying about five years down the road.
I’d move many other forwards before Hall. I understand the return won’t be as high, but their departure won’t create nearly as big of void as Hall’s would.
If a deal for Hall is available for a good return, not two or three “B” pieces, then of course Chiarelli will look at it, but I’m very doubtful one is out there.
However, if Chiarelli can find a way to retain Hall and acquire Lucic and Demers then he’s one hell of a negotiator and tap dancer.
Recently by Jason Gregor:
- Monday Musings: Chiarelli the grinder, draft age and more
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