Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The trade out East

To ATL: Hossa + De Vries

To OTT: Heatley


From OTT's perspective they shed 3.5 mil in cap room, both this year and next which should help them to retain Chara and Redden, or maybe only one of those two plus Spezza and Havlat.going forward.

Their defensive depth now looks something like:


They would still like to add another depth D, I'm sure. They'll have the money to do so as well, definitely on a one year deal and perhaps longer if someone suits their eye at a reasonable price.

For ATL, they move a player who requested, and probably needed, a trade for a great player in Hossa and a depth defenceman they can use. I'm not sure I'd like this trade for ATL if they just made it out of the blue, but on the other hand I think they did pretty well to trade a guy who didn't want to be in ATL for this much value. Devries will add stability on the blueline, which will be nice in front of the likely Hurme/Lehtonen tandem, if the rumors are true that Nurminen injured his knee and will have to retire.

It will be interesting to see how ATL handles the Kovalchuk contract, will they go longer term like Nash, or 3 year term like OTT with Heatley, taking him to UFA age in 3 years time? In any case the Heatley contract sets a reasonable expectation for Kovalchuk, who might want more, and perhaps get it, but probably not by much.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Horcoff settles before Arbitration

reportedly at 1 million USD.

It's better than I thought it would be, from the team's standpoint. I still think Horcoff would have received more going to arbitration, but not much more.

I can look at Stefan's contract and perhaps argue that Horcoff is better than him, and should get more. I can look at the Sedin contract's and say Horcoff isn't as good and deserves less, I could also probably reasonably say he isn't as good as Cole, so he deserves less than him. But I think it was close enough for both sides that they decided on a nice round number, and it's not worth the hassle to negotiate any more.

Were I Horcoff, I'd have gone thru with arbitration though unless I got a bit more, and taken my chances.With regards to next year's qualifying offer, it's interesting (to me anyways) to note that had Horcoff been paid one cent more his qualifier would have been 100% next summer, and now with his salary at 1 mil his qualifier will be 1.05 mil next summer.

In any case, this leaves Ryan Smyth as the only unsigned player left, and from the sounds of things he'll be signed to a one year deal at something slightly higher than his QO if a longer term deal cannot be worked out before the season starts. I'd like to see Smyth signed for 3 or 4 years, the cheaper the better from a team standpoint but I can't reasonably see him signing for less than, say, 3.25 mil per on a 4 year deal

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Horcoff Arbitration Comparables

I don't think Horcoff actually plans on going to arbitration; I believe he and his agent think the threat of arbitration will help them get a slightly more generous deal than if they didn't opt for arbitration.

From an Oilers perspective, I don't want horcoff to go to arbitration because I want him signed longer term. He'll go UFA in 2 years, and were I the GM I'd like him locked up for 4 years. I would be doing so imagining his offensive production to take a bit of a jump this year, but I would also figure that even if it doesn't Horcoff is valuable with MacTavish as a coach.


The first one that jumps out to me is Mike Fisher, who just signed a 3 year 4.5 mil deal. He is on the high side of what I think Horcoff could get, partially because OTT got him locked up for 3 years, one of which would have been his first eligible UFA season. Fisher is an interesting case to look at should the Oilers go the longer term contract route.

Other comparables, probably more applicable to a one or two year arbitration award:

Mark Bell - also from the 1998 draft class, Bell has within the last couple of days signed for one year, at 1.06 mil.

Henrik Sedin - from the 1999 draft class, he is 2 years younger than Horcoff, but also has slightly better career numbers. It will be interesting to see how Horcoff's age is accounted for by the arbitrator (if it gets that far), but he's been in the NHL for 4 seasons as has Sedin. Sedin just signed for 1.25 mil.

Patrik Stefan - he has an extra year played on Horcoff, but is two years younger as well. His counting nubers are very similar to Horcoff's, and Stefan is scheduled to make 1.064 mil this season.

Justin Williams - 1.225 mil per year, he has consistently outpointed Horcoff, and has played the same 4 NHL seasons as Horcoff. 2 years younger as well.

Kyle Calder - 1.331 mil. He has definitely scored more points over the last 3 NHL seasons than has Horcoff, I'm not sure they are great comparables other than their numbers were somewhat similar last year. Ordinarily arbitration seems to value the counting numbers somewhat higher than perhaps they should, so I would think this Calder contract would set a cap to what Horcoff could receive in arbitration.

In looking at all of these players it will be interesting to see how the arbitrator factors in Horcoff ony having the one 40 point season. I would think that would help the Oilers, had he done it twice in a row he'd be worth more I think.

On a one year arbitration award I would expect Horcoff to get something like 1.1 mil, Bell is a pretty close comparable it looks like, and his contract is signed in the new CBA era, that might weigh more heavily in the arbitraotr's mind. But I think EDM will probaly try to get him to a deal similar to Fisher's, perhaps cheaper. Horcoff may well be willing to take that path; he could be leaving some money on the table, but it woud also be a rich enough contract to set himself up for life - that is pretty nice security to me, who knows he it factors to him but you never know when that career ending injury might occur.

So, I'd expect something like the following:

One year deal - 1.1 mil
two year deal - 1.1 mil, 1.3 mil

3 year deal - 1.2 - 1.4 - 1.5
4 year deal - 1.2 - 1.5 - 1.5 - 1.5

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Peca as well? My my...

I must say, I'm pretty surprised by this deal, but it's tough to see how it doesn't help the Oilers for next year. With the additions of Pronger and Peca the Oilers are fast becoming a difficult team to play against. I would imagine they'll be better at ES, and on the PK. For that matter, how can the PP be worse with Pronger replacing Brewer?

One might argue that the offense isn't improved, and it may not be. Did it need to be? They were 9th in the NHL for goals scored in 03/4. York to Peca may be a slight offensive downgrade, maybe not. Brewer to Pronger should clearly be an improvement offensively. But it would seem unlikely that the combination of Peca, Pronger, and Conklin/Markkanen all year will see the goals against rise (relative to last year, who knows where the rules will take league-wide GF)

Who knows how good the Oilers will be next year, maybe I'm a pie-eyed optimist but I think they're looking pretty good for a playoff spot, and with some "luck" is home ice out of the question? Maybe not.

I can't deny wondering if the team would have been better off having signed Holik and Gonchar instead, but it's hard to know just how good those guys will be in 2 years when you're still on the hook for their contracts. Pronger as well, for that matter, though as long as his wrist hold up he seems like more of a sure bet - or am I just hoping for that to be the case?

If we assume that the Oilers currently line-up something like:

Smyth Horcoff Hemsky
Torres Peca Dvorak
Moreau Reasoner Pisani
Harvey Stoll Laraque

Pronger Semenov
Smith Staios
Cross Bergeron

I wonder, how does that compare to:

Smyth Horcoff Hemsky
York Holik Dvorak
Moreau Reasoner Pisani
Torres Stoll Laraque

Gonchar Smith
Staios Brewer
Semenov Bergeron

The second team is about 3-4 mil more expensive; is it that much better so as to be worth it? If that blew the budget then I guess it was always impossible. Also, I'm assuming both Holik and Gonchar would sign for the same amounts they signed for, respectively, in ATL and BOS, which may not be the case.

I suppose the first lineup - the current lineup - still would have 3 or 4 mil in spending room to get on par with the 2nd lineup, theoretically. If so, maybe that is the better way to go, depending what 3 mil buys on the UFA market.

Speaking of, how much money will Lowe have left after signing his RFA's? Doesn't look like much, but it sure would be nice to see Lowe take a run at Clarke while he's a bit vulnerable to an RFA offer sheet, on a player like Johnsson or Gagne, if that extra 3-4 mil is available.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Pronger an Oiler!!!

I decided to hold off commenting on this trade until the terms of the contract had come in, which are now reported as 6.25 per for 5 years.

Hmmm, how to feel about this deal?

On the one hand, they got Chris Pronger.

On the other, one imagines that they might have been able to sign Niedermayer for around the same kind of money, and used Brewer, Lynch , and Woywitka to help out in other areas.

For the moment, I'm glad they have Pronger, because he's clearly one of the best 5 defnesemen in the NHL, a "true #1" D, whatever that is.

He'll take over Brewer's minutes, perform better offensively on the PP, and be more competant as a shut down guy. He will improve the Oilers, unless he gets injured.

Will he help them more than if they had signed Niedermayer and traded Brewer etc for other help? I guess it's irrelevant at this point.

As for the pieces traded away, it's no secret that I am not the biggest fan of Brewer. But he's clearly not a garbage defenceman either. He was unsigned, and historically Lowe has been willing to overpay him. He was probalby going to get something like 2.1 mil this upcoming year, and would be unrestricted next summer. So losing him isn't nice, but it's unlikely they had him for a long time anyways. Even if they had been able to sign him longer term, I can't think of much reason to think he'd have signed for less than 3.5 mil, in EDM or elsewhere, come next summer when he's a UFA.

I have never been a big fan of Woywitka, but everyone always said he'd turn out so I was hoping. Lynch on the other hand I like more to become a regular top 4 guy. I don't know that EDM will regret trading him, but I could see him playing on STL's 2nd pair for a long while. Obviously the Oilers felt comfortable moving the three D; they must like some of the other D in the system (Gilbert, Tesliuk, Greene, Chorney, Syvret, Roy).

I think Pronger's acquisition signifies an attempt to win now, which is fine by me as I think now is as good a time as any as well. Overall, I like the deal, probably mostly because it's interesting to have an elite player playing for the Oilers, but I'm not convinced I'll like it so much in 2-3 years.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Oilers move Isbister

Isbister has been traded to Boston for a 4th round pick.

The return seems low to me, but I'm sure Lowe shopped around and this was the best he could do.

I think they can use his 1.1 mil better on the UFA market to fill some holes, so I like the move. It's unlikely he would have been playing on the top 2 lines in Edmonton, and at that money I don't think he's enough of an upgrade to be worth keeping on the 3rd/4th lines, not when his roster spot can be filled for a half a million bucks less.