Saturday, January 30, 2010

Oilers at the Deadline: Part 3 - Value Players of Interest Around the League

The players mentioned in Part 3 are those I would expect other teams may call about, but aren't players EDM really needs to actively shop in an effort to clear cap room at the moment. I think one could make a reasonable argument that O'Sullivan fits in this group. I think it's more clear that these players are either more worth their money, or are younger and therefore have a bit more potential for the Oilers to extract value from going forward.


Penner and Visnovsky are players that Edmonton should hold onto for next season if they plan on competing for a playoff spot. They are positive difference makers producing, at the least, a reasonable contribution to the team given their salary/cap hit. I don't think it's clear that either could be replaced, bang for buck, on the UFA market next summer, and the Oilers clearly don't have an internal replacements at the ready. That said, they are close enough to UFA, and have enough potential warts that if the price were right, moving them at the deadline might be advantageous long term, even if it hurts the team next season.


These 4 players may or may not be considered core players by the Oilers brass, but I'm not sure any of them are likely to carry higher value now than they will in the summer. I wouldn't be surprised if the Oilers received calls about all these players somewhat regularly, and one wouldn't be terribly surpried to find they are considered part of the core. Even if they aren't, you don't ordinarily see need-based trades made between clubs at this point in the season. If the Oilers are planning to move Cogliano for a D, or a bigger forward, or as part of a package, it would seem more likely to be consummated in the summer than now, IMO.


I'm tempted to group these players with the 4 forwards above; I'm probably oversorting by separating these two defencemen. I would guess it's a bit more likely that one of them/they move vs. the 4 players above IF the team acquiring them is looking to add a D for a playoff run. Generally veterans, both at F and D, are more likely to move as deadline deals, but these two D are a bit older and more seasoned than those listed above, and may hold more appeal to a team both looking at bolstering this year's D for a cup run AND their D going forward.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oilers at the Deadline: Part 2 - Moving Contracts

Many Oilers fans seem to be of the opinion that a 3 or 4 year rebuild is required for Edmonton to become a “true contender”. I don’t believe it has to take that long, generally agreeing with Lowetide's take. With the right moves at the deadline and this summer, Edmonton can reasonably expect to be in the playoff hunt next season with an eye towards continually improvement over the next 3-4 seasons. It remains to be seen which approach the Oilers will take; they generally seem to take a different route than I would were I in charge. For instance, I was a big proponent of completely rebuilding under the old CBA when the Oilers were locked in their seemingly endless series of 7th thru 10th finishes. I’m not a fan of a complete rebuild through youth in this CBA. As I have previously stated (how time flies!), I think it’s a strategy that cannot work as well as it did under the old CBA. Actually, I probably need some clarification here. A team forced to operate at the cap floor, with the liberalized free agency in the current CBA, may have a difficult time competing without some sort of old-CBA style rebuild, even though it won't be as effective as it would have been in the old CBA. A team that is spending at the cap ceiling has no reason to rebuild like that in the current CBA. It is unnecessary at best, and at worst a way for management to set low expectations and shrug away poor results for the next season or two. That isn't to say that it couldn't work, of course it can - just that it takes longer than I think is necessary for a team willing to spend to the cap.

I agree with the general consensus amongst fans of the Oilers that gaining cap space for this summer/next season is paramount. To do so would require moving a bunch of players, perhaps more than the Oilers will be able to move at the deadline. In addition, it’s probably an open question whether it makes more sense to move some of the following players now or in the summer. I would move all of these players now if I could; it's not worth the risk of being unable to move them later IMO.

Two questions Oilers management should consider asking themselves about each of their non-core players heading into the deadline are:

"Do I have an internal replacement ready for next season?"


"Can I reasonably expect to replace this player for similar money (or less) on the UFA market this summer?"

If the answer to either question is yes, this player should be traded before the deadline, should they prove tradeable.

To my mind, the players that qualify are:

Moreau (2.0)
Souray (5.4)
Staios (2.7)
O'Sullivan (2.9)
Nilsson (2.0)

Obviously the more you can get in return for each player, the better, and some of these players would seem to be worth more in trade than others. But I would prefer to have the cap room (15.0 mil) over the players. I don't expect the Oilers to move all five, along with Pisani and Comrie - I don't know that a team has ever moved out 7 players at the deadline. But a year with many teams in the race and few sellers is as good a year as any...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oilers at the Deadline: Part 1 - Pending UFA's

Over the next week or so, I'll be sifting through the Oilers roster, explaining how I would approach the deadline if I were the Oilers management. I'll do so by grouping the players, and hopefully will cover most of the team in 3-5 groupings.

The first group will be the most traditional deadline group for NHL teams, the pending UFA's. The Oilers have 3 such players:

(1) Mike Comrie
(2) Fernando Pisani
(3) Jason Strudwick

Jason Strudwick will presumably have no value on the trade market, and as such is an unlikely candidate for a trade prior to the deadline.

Comrie and Pisani are both unrestricted this summer, and both could potentially be "value" signings for the Oilers if the team is trying to make the playoffs next season, as I would be if I were GM. Pisani in particular, as he isn't currently duplicated on the roster in the same way Comrie is. In trading either player, the Oilers would need to balance the potential return from a deadline trade vs. the potential value in extending the player at X dollars for Y years. Obviously there's no need to weigh those factors against each other if the player won't sign an extension, or has no trade value. But, if you can only get a 6th for each player at the deadline, and can get them signed for ~ 1mil each for a year or two, I'm not sure dumping them at the deadline would be the best move. With Comrie, it may depend on your other moves; you may not choose to keep Comrie if you are planning on keeping Nilsson, Cogliano, Gagner, bringing in Omark and Eberle, etc.

To summarize, I would certainly be on the phone to see what (if anything) would be available for each of the three players. I wouldn't expect to move Strudwick, and would expect to be able to move Pisani and Comrie. That said, I probably wouldn't move Comrie or Pisani if I could extend them at favorable terms AND wouldn't get much for them in a trade. Even if I ended up trading them, I suppose talking about an extension would give me a chance to let them know I'd be interested in re-signing them in the summer, at the right price.