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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Armchair GM'ing PT II: Transition PHASE I

In accordance to what Quinn was talking about building a team for which rolling 4 lines could produce results both offensively and defensively, I tried to envision a lineup that could provide that. In both instances I have moved Brodziak to wing (yes, I know he's good at faceoffs) so that he can barrel down the RW and cause havoc in the low slot.

Lineup 1

New Guy – Horcoff – Hemsky
Penner – Gagner – Brodziak
Cogliano/MoreauReasoner – Pisani
Jacques – Spurgeon – Stortini

Visnovsky Grebeshkov
Souray Komisarek
Peckham Staios

Major changes:
  • New first line LW
  • Nilsson, Smid and Gilbert are traded
  • Brodziak on RW
  • Reasoner returns
  • Organization has to choose between Moreau or Cogliano
  • Spurgeon makes the NHL team
  • Komisarek is signed as a UFA
I believe that if the Oilers could acquire a guy like Sami Pahlsson, a superpest who can win faceoffs, he too could fill the role slated for Spurgeon in this lineup.

Lineup 2

Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky
O'Sullivan - Gagner - Pisani
Cogliano - New Guy - Brodziak
Jacques - Reasoner - Stortini

Souray Visnovsky
Gilbert Grebeshkov
Peckham New Guy

Major changes:
  • Moreau, Nilsson, Smid, and Staios are traded
  • Brodziak on RW
  • Reasoner returns
  • A shutdown D-man is brought in to play with Peckham, who is NHL-ready; Shane Hnidy or Greg Zanon are possibilities
  • A bonafide shutdown 3rd line center is signed via UFA or acquired by trade is now flanked by Cogliano on LW; this could be anybody from John Madden to Rob Neidermeyer
Lineup 3

Come back tomorrow. This lineup will feature more "coke machines" and "refrigerators" than the first two I proposed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pat Quinn and Tom Renney

Job Description

Wants another crack at the Stanley Cup

What this means

Now we know that Steve Tambellini has something significant and substantial in the current plans to convince Pat Quinn to work in Edmonton. Something big. And Tom Renney's not bad either, especially when he's a former head coach working as an associate.

More to come.

Update:Oilers Keep Buchberger

Why? Why? I would've kept Charlie Huddy. What does Buchberger bring to this coaching staff exactly?

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Armchair GM'ing for the summer.

Montgomery Burns always had a plan, a plan that often felt impervious to disaster yet somehow failed, often due to Homer J. Simpson. I have a plan, and like Mr. Burns and his plans, think it's an awesome plan. I highly doubt Tambo executes a plan at all close to mine, but I believe certain aspects will be similar. Like Tambo said at seasons end his goal was to get bigger and stronger, I share his philosophy in that regard.

First we need to look at what we have. I will only look at roster players as key components and will have them as the basis of the plans. I will also assume the cap stays at 56 million for this upcoming season.

Player Cap Hit
Penner, Dustin 4.25
Hemsky, Ales 4.1
Horcoff, Shawn 5.5
Pisani, Fernando 2.5
Moreau, Ethan 2
Nilsson, Robert 2
Gagner, Sam 1.625
Cogliano, Andrew 1.133
Pouliot, Marc 0.825
Stortini, Zach 0.7
O'Sullivan, Patrick 2.925
MacIntyre, Steve 0.537
Jacques, Jean-Francois 0.525
Kotalik, Ales UFA
Brodziak, Kyle RFA
Reddox, Liam

Visnovsky, Lubomir 5.6
Souray, Sheldon 5.4
Gilbert, Tom 4
Staios, Steve 2.7
Grebeshkov, Denis RFA
Smid, Ladislav RFA
Strudwick, Jason UFA
Peckham, Theo 0.6

Roloson, Dwayne UFA
Deslauriers, Jeff 0.625

Right now everything for next season comes to 47.545M for next season (28.62-F, 18.3-D, 0.625-G). This leaves us with 8.455M for next season.

Right now as it is, we have a couple of assets that could open us up on the trade market. We arguably have 7 top 6 players signed for next season, in Penner, Horcoff, Hemsky, Nilsson, Gagner, Cogliano, O'Sullivan. I think that Nilsson, Cogliano and O'Sullivan are all tradeable. Penner and Horcoff won't be traded because no other team will accept those contracts. Hemsky won't be traded unless we get someone better back which is highly unlikely. Gagner I believe is the future of this team, therefore also won't be traded, which leaves the 3 guys I mentioned.

On D, I think the only tradable asset we have is Tom Gilbert. Visnovsky and Souray both have NMC's. Grebeshkov and Smid are RFA's and Staois wouldn't fetch too much on the market.

First of all, I would resign Grebeshkov to a contract that has him at a caphit of 3.5M. I will also resign Smid to a 1.5M contract. Reddox also gets the 1M extension. I don't resign Brodziak.

First of all, I would offer Tampa Bay Penner and a 2nd for Malone. Penner and Malone have similar offensive numbers and the exact same cap hit, however Malone brings more heart and grit to the game. He's finishes his checks and gives noticably more effort than Penner. We add the 2nd to get Tampa to bite.

Next, during Free Agency we sign Marty Reasoner to a 1M caphit contract. He's the essential 3rd line center we need as Brodziak obviously wasn't able to fill that void. Reasoner also is more capable at killing PK's and defensive zone faceoffs. This would relieve pressure off of Horcoff allowing him to focus on his offensive game moreso.

Next we see if Staios and Nilsson packaged together get any type of draft picks coming back or prospects coming back. We do it. With the void Staios leaves, we sign Greg Zanon to a 2M contract.

Next we look at Gilbert, Cogliano and O'Sullivan. We could trade Gilbert to Buffalo for the rights to Drew Stafford assuming he signs long term with the Oilers. Stafford adds that grit to our top 6 along with Malone. I would assume Stafford will get a new contract in the range of 3.5M.

Now we try to also clear out Pouliots contract. Take whatever you can for the guy as he has close to no future with the Oilers.

Next we solve our goaltending issue. Theres 3 options that I believe are available for the Oilers.
1)Acquiring Jaroslav Halak via trade
2)Acquiring Jonas Gustavsson via nice contract
3)Acquring Josh Harding via offer sheet

All these scenarios have the goalie making money up to 3M. I would move Deslauriers in all scenarios and sign Roloson to a contract in the 2-3M range. I think Halak and Harding are more realistic from an Oilers perspective as Gustavsson will most likely end up in a more conisistent powerhouse franchise. If we say offer Harding 2.5-3M as I don't see how Minnesota would match when they are paying Backstrom 6M. To pay up to 9M on goaltending is most likely not in the plans for Minnesota. So let's just say we sign another goalie to 3M.

Next can either unfold in 2 ways.

1) We can offer Cogliano and O'Sullivan to San Jose for Milan Michalek. Also even though Souray has a NTC, if I were Tambo I would ask him if he would waive it for San Jose. San Jose will have to fill the void that Rob Blake leaves next season. Souray would be a valid option and I don't see how he would decline waiving his NTC when his family all lives in LA. If we do move Souray we offer Mike Komisarek 4.5M. Also if we trade Souray to San Jose for Michalek, I would move Cogliano, O'Sullivan and our 10th to move up in the draft.

2) Offer Cogliano, O'Sullivan and our 10th Pick to move up as far as we can in the draft. Then see if Jagr is willing sign here for 5M.

Option 1




Option 2



Both options are somewhat plausible and fit under the cap assuming Jagr signs relative cheap in Option 2 (5M). We get alot bigger and tougher in both scenarios as well. The Malone-Gagner-Stafford line is relatively young and would be able to step in to being the #1 line in the future.
Option 1 will give us 1.3M in space and Option 2 will give us 0.5M in space. To keep in mind the future, I would only resign Roloson to a 1 year contract and have his caphit go to whatever Gagner's extension would require.

Both options give Hemsky another Czech linemate. I've personally been waiting for Hemsky to have that breakout season, I think both options give him that ability.

Our 3rd line of Moreau-Reasoner-Pisani would be the essential shutdown line. Where our 4th line of Reddox-Jacques-Stortini would be our energy line. As with both options I've somewhat set up a 1a-1b line system so they can eat equal minutes. This would keep our 4th line to less than 10 minutes a game, where the other 3 lines can eat up the other 50 easily.

Our D core gets better in both scenarios as well. Although it inhinges on Peckham continuing to progress at the rate he was. Near the end of last season he was much improved as compared to his first couple of games. Zanon is a improvement over Staois as well.

As for Goaltending, it's still questionable, however most likely we acquire a goaltender with him in mind for the future. Roloson is still a good goalie, however for as many games he can steal, he can also lose for that one bad goal.

Anyways thats my plan.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Checking Centers

Radek Bonk is a UFA this summer. He's not the best checking center available on the market this summer, but he's got size and experience.

One problem with the Oilers 2008-09 squad that keeps being mentioned is the lack of a "true" 3rd line checking center. Throughout the year, that post was filled by a myriad of players, from Andrew Cogliano to Fernando Pisani.

Steve Tambellini is definitely going to want to add a veteran checking center with experience to his lineup. Maybe the Oilers should consider signing even two - since this would allow Kyle Brodziak to play a bigger role in other areas of the team, perhaps successfully filling the role that MAP never could. However, keep in mind that Tyler Spurgeon and Ryan Stone are also good dark horses for the 4th line job this training camp.

Here's a list of 2009 UFA checking centers:

John Madden, 36
2008-09 Salary: $2,938,540

There's little doubt that John Madden has formed the core of a formidable New Jersey defensive system for a long time now. But at age 36, he would not be a long term solution for the Oilers. In the short term, however, he would be a good fix. My bet is on Madden resigning in New Jersey, though.
Todd Marchant, 35
2008-09 Salary: $2,660,000

Most people were surprised about Marchant and his Ducks in their ability to compete this post season but the former Oiler has still got it. I believe he's entering the last year of the contract that the Columbus Blue Jackets gave him when he left Edmonton and he's got plenty of experience in the faceoff dot and in a checking role. Resigning him would reunite the Marchant-Moreau duo but I don't believe Marchant is what Tambellini looks for on a team that already complains of too many speedy small forwards and not enough size and grit.
Bobby Holik, 38
2008-09 Salary: $2,500,000

Never say never when it comes to skilled veterans but at age 38 I think Holik will never be an Oiler. He's got skill and size but can he keep up with competition in the Northwest Division? If Brent Sutter came to Edmonton Holik would be a familiar face but I think it's a good bet that Tambellini goes with someone younger.
Rob Neidermeyer, 34
2008-09 Salary: $2,000,000

Rob and his brother Scott (pending retirement?) are cousins of current Oiler Jason Strudwick. Rob Neidermeyer is in the midst of what should be considered a pretty successful playoff run so far and combined with Todd Marchant have pretty much made a skilled checking center like Sami Pahlsson expendable. Rob has got some size and plenty of experience. Rob would look great in Oiler silks.
Steven Reinprecht, 33
2008-09 Salary: $2,000,000

The Edmonton native Reinprecht has filled something of checking role in Phoenix but has at times in his career had a very confusing role. He's sometimes more offense than defense and more defense than offense. He's not a guy that can fill the role of a "true" checking center.
Radek Bonk, 33
2008-09 Salary: $1,600,000

Bonk may not be the most physical defensive forward - but neither is Fernando Pisani. But hey, that's why we have Ethan Moreau and Zach Stortini, right? I don't know if Bonk is what Tambellini is looking for but he's certainly a better candidate for the position than Andrew Cogliano is.
Manny Malhotra, 29
2008-09 Salary: $1,500,000

Manny started his career as an offensive prospect and has since filled a more defensive role on teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets. He's really filled out in the role even though the Jackets were wiped off the map by the Red Wings in the past first round series. Not really Manny's fault though, since it was a team fail. Malholtra is a curious case as he's entering the prime age for checking forwards and his salary range expectancy is pretty decent. He doesn't have the experience of other checking centers but he does have pluck and did play a good deal with Mike Peca (not on the same line).
Samuel Pahlsson, 31
2008-09 Salary: $1,400,000

This fellow was deemed expendable by Anaheim and his job was (and is) being carried out amiably by Marchant and Neidermeyer. Part of the reason is that Pahlsson is more of a pest than a checking center and a good pest at that since he doesn't take many stupid penalties the way a Jarkko Ruutu player does. Hence, he's really more of a supporting defensive player in an Ethan Moreau type of role than a "true" checking center.
Mike Peca, 35
2008-09 Salary: $1,315,000

Most people would agree that Peca isn't interested in returning to Edmonton but I hold out hope that he changes his mind. His veteran play was a key part of the Oilers run in 2006 and he would be a stabilizing presence on the 3rd line. He doesn't have size but he's truckloads of experience and nobody doubts his pluck.
Steve Begin, 31
2008-09 Salary: $1,300,000

Steve Begin finishes his checks and his a gritty forward. I can't remember the last time he won a fight and he's not that big but he's a good checking forward. Good candidate for the 4th line position.
Chris Gratton, 33
2008-09 Salary: $1,250,000

The big man has never really filled the role in a "true" kind of way but he's got great faceoff skills and great size. With the right support on the wings, he could be a great pickup at his price.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"That Guy"

This season the Oilers lacked heart and identity. Usually I like to think they stem from "That Guy", and for the Oilers the last "That Guy" they had was Jason Smith. Jason Smith was one of the toughest sob's ever, including player 2008 playoffs with 2 dislocated shoulders. Since his tenure in Edmonton ended the Oilers have not been able to replace his back-end presence. We had Matt Greene who was looking to become "That Guy" however we traded him to acquire Lubomir Visnovsky. Smid also could be "That Guy" if the Oilers manage to keep him around long enough.

This offseason, I hope the Oilers can manage to find that guy. One guy I really hope the Oilers make a push for is Greg Zanon. Coming off a season where he made 0.736 million, Zanon had 237 Blocked Shots (3rd in the league) and ended the season with a +8 rating and with a minimal 38 PIM's. Zanon isn't the biggest guy at 5.11 and 201 but he could very well be "That Guy" for the Oilers next season at a good price.

Another guy who's already built a reputation is Mike Komisarek, he's a bigger fellow at 6.4 and 245 pounds. He blocked 207 shots this season (4th in the league) and had 191 hits vs. Zanons 154. Komisarek is alot edgier when it comes to the gritty stuff and ended the season with 121 PIMs. He's also willing to drop the gloves, but got his ass handed to him twice by Milan Lucic. Komisareks price range is probably gonna be closer to the 4 million mark and with the Oilers budget for the following season being tight I don't expect him to be an Oiler, however if the cap space became availabe by say moving Gilbert, I think the Oilers should place a bid for Komisarek.

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