Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Art of Negotiation

Last summer, I wrote a brief post mildly lamenting a small overpay I felt the Oilers made with Jason Strudwick, and instead of re-posting the thing I've chosen to save a bit of time by providing a link here.

I guess I just don't understand this sort of deal. I'm not sure why management gives a raise to this type of player. Was it REALLY necessary to give Strudwick a $25,000 raise to retain his services for next season? I'm not in the Oilers room, or Strudwick's agent, but I have a hard time seeing which other NHL team would have even given him a one-way contract, nevermind a raise to $725,000. He played the 10th most TOI per game among Edmonton defencemen last season. Admittedly, one could make an argument that he was more like 8th in ATOI, since the Johnson/Staois and Whitney/Visnovsky pairings were never on the team at the same time. Even given that, why did the 8th defenceman on the worst team in the league deserve a raise?

Maybe I'm way off in assuming the Oilers could have signed Strudwick for $500,000 as a UFA, or signed Jacques for $550,000 and Deslauriers for $700,000 on one-way deals if they had declined to qualify both players and looked to re-sign them as UFA's. Or used their leverage with Dubnyk to get him signed for $700,000, given that he had no guarantee of a one way contract, Khabibulin and Deslauriers (in this hypothetical) ahead of him on one-way deals, and isn't a stone cold lock to get picked up on waivers this fall. But that represents a real savings of $690,000, and it seems to me that money that could be better used than giving end of the roster players slight overpays that don't seem particularly likely to generate enough goodwill to influence potential future contract negotiations. Better used for things like signing a couple college free agents, hiring more scouts, signing higher quality AHL veterans, or incremental money that could be used to sign a UFA F or D this summer for 2.2 mil instead of 1.5 mil, with an eye towards getting a better quality player that can be flipped for a 2nd at the deadline.

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