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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cheap Role Players and the 55 Million Challenge

The Challenge: Forge a competitive NHL team with 55 million or less

I was thinking back to Lowetide's blog post on cap bargain players and that got me thinking about how the Oilers could potentially still compete as a team though they will very likely be picking a very high priced player this off-season.

Let's be honest with ourselves: Katz failed to sign Hossa last year and with the loss of Reasoner and Glencross, I'm sure he won't let the next big ticket get away. It's almost guaranteed that Katz will make sure one of Heatley, Gaborik, or Hossa will be Tambellini's next successful acquisition via trade or free agent signing. Even if it's not one of those three, something big will happen. He's opened the books to the coaches when he signed Quinn and Renney. Here come the player pay cheques too!

But Oilers admin, Oilers fan, and the Oilogosphere alike are well aware of the cheap contracts the Oilers had during the o5-06 cup run and how they are necessary to have more talent than is proportional to the salary being paid. It is interesting that despite the way the last two seasons ended (just out of the playoffs but on different terms) it would seem that the window of opportunity just opened up again.

This is not the first Armchair GM/Potential Scenario kind of shindig that I've thrown together in the last few weeks but the main focus for this scenario is the acquisition of cheap role players and bonafide NHL talent at reasonable prices.

The Lineup (Summary)

LW Heatley C Horcoff RW Hemsky
LW Cogliano C Pavelski RW Gagner
LW Moreau C UFA Center RW Pisani
LW Jacques C Brodziak RW Stortini
F MacIntyre
F Reddox

D Visnovsky D Grebeshkov
D Ehrhoff D Smith
D Gorges D Peckham
D Zanon
D Ole-Kristian Tollefsen

G Lehtonen G Harding
G Perugini

Salary: 52.457 million + ????


Forwards - 29.757 million + ????

LW Heatley $7.5/7.0
C Horcoff $5.5
RW Hemsky $4.1

LW Cogliano $1.133
C Pavelski $1.637
RW Gagner $1.625

LW Moreau $2.0
C Fiddler/Yelle EST $1.0
RW Pisani $2.5

LW Jacques $0.525
C Brodziak EST $1.0
RW Stortini $0.7

F MacIntyre $0.537
F Reddox ????
F Chipchura ????
F Spurgeon ????
F Stone ????
F Kytnar ????

Though I would like to see Gratton in an Oiler uniform for faceoff purposes alone I also consider the fact that the Oilers passed on him when he was on waivers. So realistically, Vernon Fiddler, Stephane Yelle or Mike Zigomanis are better options. I also wouldn't rule out the chances of one of the farmhands surprising at TC 09-10 considering the Tyler Spurgeon faceoff winning checking center is just the type of player the Oilers are looking for, and would cost less than a Fiddler, Yelle, or Zigomanis, though the latter options would have more veteran experience in the position.

And btw, I would love to see either Stone or Spurgeon in Oiler uniforms this upcoming season. Here's to their showing up to the TC party.

Defense - 17.2 million + ????

D Visnovsky $5.6
D Grebeshkov $3.2

D Ehrhoff$3.3
D Smith $2.6

D Gorges $1.1
D Peckham $0.6

D Zanon EST $0.8
D Ole-Kristian Tollefsen ????

One thing stands out the most to me: Theo Peckham is ready for full time work and I believe he can do the job that Smid or Staios does, and perhaps eventually, do it better.

In this scenario, a Jay Bouwmeester signing doesn't happen on account of too much salary to dump. If Heatley can be acquired without taking back defensive salary, then perhaps a move here and a move there could accomondate the large salary J-Bo is bound to be asking for. The catch: the Oilers can't have 3 big ticket D-men. At least not in my imaginary scenarios where I get to call the shots (LOL!).

Goaltending - 5.5 million + ????

G Lehtonen EST 3.0
G Harding EST 2.5

Combined with Harding, Lehtonen would make a great 1A/1B combination.

G Perugini (I think he warrants this position on the depth chart)

Total Salary - 52.457 million + ????
Verdict: Challenge can be met

Requisite Trades
  1. (EDM) Tom Gilbert + Dustin Penner + prospect for (OTT) Dany Heatley + Jason Smith + low draft pick (5th or lower)
  2. (EDM) Sheldon Souray + prospect + 2nd round pick for (SJS) Pavelski + Ehrhoff
  3. (EDM) Marc-Antoine Pouliot + Steve Staios + Ladislav Smid for (MTL) Kyle Chipchura + Josh Gorges + prospect
  4. (EDM) Patrick O'Sullivan for (MIN) Josh Harding
  5. (EDM) Jeff DesLauriers for (CLB) Olle-Kristian Tollefsen
  6. (EDM) Robert Nilsson + draft picks or prospects for (ATL) Kari Lehtonen
Trade #1 - Why does Ottawa accept this trade?
  • Ottawa is in a corner when it comes to the Heatley trade demands and if they deal a top 6 LW they will need a top 6 LW in return. Seeing as they would be accepting way too much salary, the Oilers would need to pick up some salary, most likely Smith, in return.
  • There are a lot of teams out there that need scoring, but I have no doubt that Edmonton and Vancouver are the most desperate right now. The Oilers have better assets to give up.
Trade #2 - Why does San Jose accept this trade?
  • Firstly, if I was San Jose, I would want to keep Joe Pavelski. However, the loss of Rob Blake means a need for a big D-man who can play both the PP and the PK. Pavelski is due for a pay raise soon and that means one of Marleau or Cheechoo would have to be traded and perhaps San Jose is willing to part with Pavelski instead, with the added incentive of some skilled prospects (Schremp? Omark?) and a high draft pick.
  • Sheldon Souray is a slight upgrade on Christian Ehrhoff, who is significantly more expensive than his counterparts Vlasic and Murray. This may mean Ehrhoff is expendable to San Jose.
Trade #3 - Why does Montreal accept this trade?
  • We all know that Bob Gainey has pretty much nobody on contract into next season. He has a whackload of prospects and RFAs to resign and perhaps he is willing to part with former WJC star and Team Canada captain Kyle Chipchura. Pouliot is on a pretty fair contract and he's got size and speed.
  • Also, looking at Montreal's D-core one first notices the lack of veteran leadership with the exception of the hardened Hamrlik and the marksmen Markov. The re-acquisition of Jason Smith leaves Steve Staios expendable. Josh Gorges at $1.0 M is not bad for a third pairing offensive defenseman. Sure is cheaper than Marc-Andre Bergeron at $1.6 M.
  • First off, I would love to keep Smid. But I have heard rumours of his not wanting to play in Edmonton, let alone on a third pairing. Smid is coming into his own and would probably form part of Montreal's new second pairing (LOL!) of Staios-Smid. Sure beats playing Ryan O'Byrne every night for 25 minutes, I'll tell you that much. And Edmonton gets a decent prospect in return for Smid. Win-win.
Trade #4 - Why does Minnesota accept this trade?
  • Minnesota loves Patrick O'Sullivan. Edmonton loves Josh Harding. I'm sure we can work things out in terms of the specifics but this seems to me to be a trade made in heaven.
  • The teams out east that need goaltending (Philadelphia, Tampa Bay) are not looking like favourable outlets for Harding. I don't think Minnesota will mind trading within the division, since both players involved have played very limited time for their respective teams.
  • O'Sullivan would easily be in the top 6 forward bracket for Minnesota.
Trade #5 - Why does Columbus accept this trade?
  • Well, there's always the Scott Howson factor.
  • Steve Mason is on a cheap contract. I'm also sure that Howson is interested in acquiring a veteran backup for the Calder trophy winner Mason, but he would save a lot of money by acquiring cheap backup DesLauriers as opposed to more expensive options such as Khabibulin or Roloson (who would also be applied to the Howson factor). Mason proved this season that he's ready for the starting job.
  • Olle-Kristian Tollefsen is a pending RFA and this would take one more thing off of Howson's mind. He's a big strong defenseman of the Hal Gill model but perhaps with better passing. He would be a cheap Ladislav Smid replacement (though his skating does not compare) and an upgrade on Jason Strudwick.
Trade #6 - Why does Atlanta accept this trade?
  • Simply put, Atlanta has not offensive depth. They emptied the vaults for the Keith Tkachuk episode and it hurt them bad.
  • Ondrej Pavelec may not necessarily be ready for the big show but I'm sure that if the Oilers offered Robert Nilsson it would be great starting point for discussing a potential trade for Kari Lehtonen.
It is also possible that the Oilers keep DesLauriers and trade Cogliano. The Oilers are wary of trading Cogliano, as per every source made available thus far on the internet, but if the right return is available, don't think Tambellini won't make the move.

Shout out to Boys on the Bus, who has a pretty good thing going even though they just started out. Welcome to the Oilogosphere.

With all that math said and done, here is a similar lineup.

A Similar Lineup

LW Heatley C Horcoff RW Hemsky
LW Antropov* C Pavelski RW Gagner
LW Moreau C UFA Center RW Pisani
LW Jacques C Brodziak RW Stortini
F Hudler
F MacIntyre
F Helm

D Visnovsky D Grebeshkov
D Kronwall D Smith
D Gorges D Peckham
D Ole-Kristian Tollefsen
D Chorney

G Gustavsson** G Harding
G Perugini

Salary: Around 54 million, depending on Gustavsson
(this scenario has no Greg Zanon signing)

* Antropov plays both wings
** Gustavsson may have no NHL experience but he's an international sensation I believe he would make a great tandem with Harding

Requisite Trades
  1. (EDM) Tom Gilbert + Dustin Penner + prospect for (OTT) Dany Heatley + Jason Smith + low draft pick (5th or lower)
  2. (EDM) Sheldon Souray + prospect + 2nd round pick for (SJS) Pavelski + Ehrhoff
  3. (EDM) Marc-Antoine Pouliot + Steve Staios + Ladislav Smid for (MTL) Kyle Chipchura + Josh Gorges + prospect
  4. (EDM) Patrick O'Sullivan for (MIN) Josh Harding
  5. (EDM) Jeff DesLauriers for (CLB) Olle-Kristian Tollefsen
  6. (EDM) Robert Nilsson + draft picks or prospects for (ATL) Kari Lehtonen
  7. (EDM) Christian Ehrhoff + Andrew Cogliano + Robert Nilsson for Niklas Kronwall + Jiri Hudler + Darren Helm + low draft picks
Trade #7 - Why does Detroit accept this trade?
  • One can dream... yeah I know this would put the Red Wings over the cap. This is because Kronwall makes less than Ehrhoff and Nilsson makes way more than Helm. Perhaps the Oilers could swallow some salary for the Red Wings, who knows. Oh yeah, there's also that business about Kronwall being a more complete defenseman than Ehrhoff.
  • However, Cogliano played college hockey in Michigan and would probably be a known player to the Red Wings local scouts. Cogliano is arguably just as good as most of the Red Wings young players (Hudler, Helm) and perhaps better than some. Nilsson is a pure salary dump but I'm sure the Red Wings will love his skill.
  • Hudler is a pending RFA. Edmonton can take that RFA off their hands considering all the other contracts Detroit has handed out and is yet to hand out this off season. They aren't going to resign Mikael Samuelsson... but do they have enough to resign Hudler after opening the books for Franzen?
  • Hudler doesn't fit into this Edmonton lineup right off the bat but he could yield a return if someone tries to sign him to an offer sheet. If not, we could flip him for more assets later on in the off season or regular season.
That's it folks.

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Blogger thickoil said...

What's with the Pavelski and Antropov. Antropov is like Penner and Pavelski is currently better than Gagner, but I don't see that lasting for long. These are lateral move players. If you looking at San Jose players, look at Clowe.

Also they both are relatively soft. We need some sandpaper in the top 6.

June 23, 2009 at 8:02 PM

Blogger JK said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 23, 2009 at 8:25 PM

Blogger JK said...

So, I was reading along and then all of a sudden there it was...

Thanks for the shout out. You've got a good thing going yourself, Strange Deadfellows.

Here's my $.02 on the post:

I like the idea of O'Sullivan for Harding, and I agree that there is also a potential play for Lehtinen. Speaking of Atlanta, I am willing to forego all of the current Heatley speculation and say that I'd rather have Tambellini take a run at Kovalchuk, who is coming up on the last year of his contract.

Not a big fan of Pavelski, but Antropov intrigues me, and John Madden between Moreau and Pisani gives me goosebumps.

Mark my words. Smid is going to be the next Pronger or Chara someday. I can hear the laughter already, but I'm happy to sit back with a smug look on my face and wait until the day he proves me and Kevin Lowe right. Tambellini should do everything he can to sign him long term and get him 1st pairing minutes, even if it means saying goodbye to Gilbert or Grebeshkov.

Chipchura would look good in an Oiler uniform, but Gorges does nothing for me. Spurgeon and Stone both have tons of potential.

I hope one of Gilbert, Visnovsky, or Souray can be moved to clear enough cap space for Bouwmeester (assuming he wants to come home). And Penner, Nilsson, Pouliot, and Schremp can pack their bags anytime.

June 23, 2009 at 8:27 PM


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