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Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Sad Farewell

Saying bye to Strange Deadfellows Oilerblog is kind of like saying bye to this random but really cute husky cross that deep down inside you want to kidnap and bring home, but not really.

Did I say that out loud?

But in reality, saying bye to our Oilerblog is more like a hello than a goodbye? Well, for anyone familiar with the Transformers franchise, it's like a pretty normal looking car morphing into an ass-kicking robot from outer space, fighting good or manifesting evil in awesome fashion.

Either way, it's awesome.

So at long last, I want to introduce An Oilers Refinery, our new hockey and sports blog built on a WordPress (did I mention it's better than Blogger?) engine.

It's morphin' time!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dictionary of Oilingo

My new blog, An Oilers Refinery, has a dictionary of Oilers-relevant terms, tentatively called Oilingo. I would appreciate if you would assist me in filling this dictionary.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

With the 8th overall pick, the Edmonton Oilers select...

#8 - Zach Parise to the Edmonton Oilers (selected by Antony Ta)

Let's just forget the Oilers ever traded that 17th overall pick.

Cap Hit: $3,125,000

Parise does it all: he scores goals, gives assists, finishes hits and plays with intensity.

The First 10 Picks:

1. Calgary, Ovechkin
2. Vancouver, Crosby
3. Tampa Bay, Lundqvist
4. Dallas, Malkin
5. Chicago, Toews
6. New York (Islanders), Lidstr
7. Philadelphia, Datsyuk
8. Edmonton, Parise

9. Nashville, T.B.A.
10. Atlanta, T.B.A.

More on this Fantasy Re-Draft:
Cycle like the Sedins: Re-drafting the League: Revealing picks 26-30!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dwight Helminen and Energy Players

Dwight Helminen signed in San Jose.

For those of you who recall, he was an Oilers draft pick from way back when and was most recently a call up for the Carolina Hurricanes, as mentioned elsewhere previously.

Which leads me to thinking:

Are there any former Oiler draft picks / property that could potentially fill in for the holes vacated by Brodziak and/or Reddox? Though this summer is a chance for Jacques/Pouliot/Brule to prove they have the tools to be energy role players - should the Oilers seek insurance? This insurance sought should benefit not only the Oilers 4th line coming out of training camp (competition) but also as incoming veterans on a young Falcons team.

Players like Alexei Mikhnov and Alexander Bumagin are certainly out of the picture, but are there any others to consider?

The first name that comes to mind is Tyler Spurgeon (aka the faceoff machine), but the Oilers just let him go this summer.

The second name that comes to mind is Jonas Almtorp, who receives a favourable description from Hockey's Future but a not so desirable rating of 4.5 B. He sounds like a great energy player since they mention his skating abilities, but a 4.5 B rating leaves one scratching their head. Since Kyle Brodziak graduated Hockey's Future with a 6.0 B, Almtorp would be considered a slight downgrade (though cheaper). But that's only if you hold Hockey's Future ratings in high regard. I personally think they are usually pretty accurate.

Thirdly, what about Mike Bishai - a free agent college signing who has apparently become a reliable offensive guy in the SM-liiga? He most recently spent 49 games in 2007-08 with a recent Oiler signing, Matt Nickerson, playing for Ilves Tampere. I think that Bishai could be the Jason Krog of the Springfield Falcons.

Lastly, what about Bishai's current teammate in Jokerit Helsinki, Jani Rita? Rita's last stint in Edmonton left something to be desired both by the club and by the player, but in hindsight, he was a player whose promise was never delivered due to many complicating factors. Like Liam Reddox, Rita was a high-scoring winger as youngster and has settled into more of a leadership role with Helsinki, and he currently sits second for Jokerit in points. Could he be a potential sparkplug? Would he be willing to come back to the Oilers for one season (assuming next season is the RFA season from hell...)?

I think the addition of Bishai and Rita, along with forwards like Chris Minard, Jordan Eberle, Toni Rajala, and Milan Kytnar, the Falcons will be soon become a very competitive AHL team, at least up front. The bonus is that Bishai is probably an upgrade on Tim Sestito, and he would be a potential call-up pending injuries or whatever.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Denis no longer a Menace

Grebs is signed to a one year deal at 3.15 million.

This is good in that he makes much less than the expected 3.5 M per year price tag we were expecting, but bad in that he will be a pending UFA at the end of next season.

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An Oilers Refinery

At the end of August, Strange Deadfellows, The Refinery, and Addicted-To-Oil are considering a move to a new URL and blog, tentatively to be called "An Oilers Refinery."

More details to come.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bodies: "I think I broke my Armchair" GM'ing

This is Scottie Upshall. Do you think he could play an Ethan Moreau role? More on him later.

Steve Tambellini has a lot of bodies to get rid of, and a lot of holes to fill. The only problem is, not all those holes can be filled via just the trade or just the UFA route, primarily because:

a) some positions are deep on the UFA front
b) some positions are shallow on the RFA front
c) a lot of talent has already been scooped up on the UFA front

Basically, he'll have to create more holes to fill old ones, but only in the short run. Then, like Brian Burke, he will deal excess bodies to fill those secondary holes. Lastly, he will sign a bunch of reliable AHL and NHL journeyman to two-way contracts who have the capability to fill in when injuries happen. This may include signing our own RFAs or dealing some of them.

Tambellini will have to be crafty to fill his roster holes without upsetting the balance of team chemistry heading into the season. I think this means the Oilers have to identify where they can save money and where they have to spend.

The goaltending issue has already been resolved, but the following issues are still at hand:
  1. 3rd line checking center
  2. top-6 winger
  3. cheap, reliable defenseman (5-8)
Considering the Oilers are spending 2 million and up on Moreau and Staios, I would say the Oilers would look to replacing them first. I wouldn't look to Pisani considering he's a pending UFA and he would only have trade value around the trade deadline in Spring, and also because Pisani is one of our more consistent checking forwards.

Both Moreau and Staios have been warriors for Edmonton. They have bled for the Oilers but I think this past season has shown that their roles on the team are only regressing to the point where they may become expendable. Moreau is a penalty-taking risk every time he's on the ice and Staios, though making D partners like Strudwick look better, is not worth 2.7 million if you consider Denis Grebeshkov is worth 3.3-4 million. It just wouldn't make sense.

Other bodies of interest are Nilsson and Smid. They both have better trade value than Moreau and Staios. Firstly, because they are younger, and secondly, because of all their upside. Moreau and Staios have already hit the ceiling in their careers but Nilsson and Smid may not have.

I think Scottie Upshall, a UFA, could be signed to less than 2 million but more than the $1,250,000 he made last year. Maybe in the 1.5 or 1.6 million range. I also believe he could fill the Moreau role, while Moreau could be traded to a team looking for grit and leadership. I think Phoenix would accept a Moreau for Upshall trade straight-up.

Nilsson would go to a team full of aging veterans in need of a boost of youth, and the Oilers would receive that cheap, reliable defenseman to replace Staios on the bottom pairing (5-8), along with draft picks. Detroit loves young skilled wingers and Nilsson has a great pedigree. Perhaps a Nilsson for Lebda + picks deal would work out fine.

This leaves Staios as the odd man out. Pittsburgh may want him because they lost Scuderi this off season via UFA. What would the Oilers want in return, though? Perhaps another one of the young firebrands the Penguins seem so good at developing (in the mold of Talbot, Stone, and others). Maybe Tyler Kennedy? Tyler Kennedy would not only be a replacement for Liam Reddox, he may be an upgrade.

For me, the only way you trade Smid (as part of a package) is that you get one of the following things in return:
  1. A top-6 forward
  2. A bonafide 3rd line checking center
In my Armchair GM scenario, we're slowly working towards having enough salary to sign Manny Malholtra. So, it would make sense that Smid would have to be part of a package to land a top-6 winger. However, life isn't perfect, so I've considered the available top-6 forwards:
  1. Dany Heatley - he's not coming to Edmonton
  2. Nikolai Zherdev - acquiring this player leaves Cogliano in limbo
  3. Travis Zajac - the Oilers would have to overpay to get him
It may make sense to trade Smid to a team like San Jose, who have an older team with an average age of 29.6 years old, for a proven faceoff guy like Marcel Goc, who was 58.2% on the draws last year.

Certainly, his QUALCOMP was -0.047 but that was already a better rating than the following players:
  1. Daniel Briere (top-6)
  2. Steve Begin (checking center)
  3. Marc-Antoine Pouliot (rating of -0.060)
  4. Kyle Brodziak (rating of -0.068)
And identical to the following players:
  1. Boyd Gordon
  2. Michel Ouellet
  3. Ladislav Smid
Marcel Goc is not Manny Malholtra (QUALCOMP of 0.027 and BTN +/- of 11) but he's a pretty decent alternative, and apparently an improvement on Oilers 3rd and 4th line centers of the past season. Acquiring both would solve even more problems.

For the purposes of the following lineups I will assume Goc will sign for 2 million.


Upshall-Malholtra-Pisani (pending UFA)

Forwards: About 32 million


D-men: About 21 million


Goalies: About 4 million

Total: 57 million

This suggestion was only over the cap because I decided to try to sign both Goc and Malholtra, though we could easily have done with just one of them.

As this stands the Oilers would have to shed some salary and they would have a hard time doing it without moving one of Souray, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Penner, Cogliano/O'Sullivan or Pisani. Horcoff, Hemsky, Visnovsky, and Gagner are probably the untouchables. I love O'Sullivan but if I had to cast a vote it'd be him.

There is always the size issue with the second line, but that could also be resolved down the line before training camp.

Alternatively ...


Upshall-Goc-Pisani (pending UFA)

Forwards: About 29 million


D-men: About 21 million


Goalies: About 4 million

Total: 54 million

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Winnipeg Airport

I met Don Cherry this morning. It was awesome.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Improving the NHL (and KHL?) - Mad Ramblings from A Hockey-Deprived Fan

World Championship Hockey - No Stanley Cup on the line, but who would complate about hockey in summer? Can there be a new three-way deal for players in the NHL/KHL that the IIHF would support?

  • Strong fan base in two nations, with potential for growth (though Bettman has not yet discovered the magical formula for converting people to hockey fans)
  • Hockey is the only major sport small enough to incorporate tiny Canadian markets as well as the largest American metropolitans
  • Increased competition due to 30 teams in a small league that is equipped with a salary cap
  • Loyalty by the NHL and NHLPA to traditional franchises (a la Edmonton, Pittsburgh)
  • Ice is more expensive to maintain than dirt/grass/sod, or whatever, making grassroots development of the game impractical in Southern parts of the continent, due to temperature fluctuations going N to S
  • The other major hockey centers are across the pond in Europe (and to a limited degree, Asia), going W to E
  • Expansion quotas not strict enough, or nonexistent
  • 82 game season
Suggestions for a better NHL (and better KHL, perhaps)
  • Either increase the number of teams so that more major markets are represented (I'm sure Toronto can handle another team, and how about Las Vegas?) or shrink the league to focus on saving the teams the NHL claims to be committed to - a lot of the current teams (Phoenix, Tampa Bay, to name a few) are annually in deep waters in terms of fan support and financial support
  • Shorter NHL season of 60-70 games, with a pre-playoffs wildcard round (5-10 games against other wildcards) for teams in the 7th -10th spots in each conference, focusing all the Spring attention on teams trying to get in, and not the teams who have already made it
  • Very short Champions league style of hockey tournament with private clubs from the top professional leagues participating, though it would require an NHLPA exemption for contracts signed for non-NHL competitive activity, with a separate paid bonus as agreed to both by the owner of the team, the NHL, and the player agent; this would another dimension to the existing dynamic of one-way and two-way contracts, perhaps giving birth to the three-way contract, referring to such tournaments; not sure what the NHLPA opinion is on the existing World Championships of Hockey, considering their current position on post-Vancouver Winter Olympics hockey participation by NHL players; an example would be if Ryan Potulny signed a three-way contract: if he never suited up for the Oilers for the 60-70 games or the subsequent playoffs (if any), he could still represent the team in off-season NHL club competitions with teams from the SEL or whatever, if the other players ahead of him in the depth chart don't have such bonuses or clauses in their existing contracts
  • This may be a problem for players who are oft-injured; perhaps the player would not receive the bonus or clause in their contract allowing for non-NHL professional competition
Why this helps the NHL:
  • Expanding to large markets provides revenue and buffer (damage absorption) if bad teams have to be relocated or moved, or in a worst-case-scenario, disbanded through a waiver draft
  • Shrinking to a manageable size just eliminates bad franchises outright
  • Playing less games in the tougher league (games that matter) means that veterans have more time to focus on the playoffs and off-season (for family, training, or whatever), whereas younger prospects and players have further advantages to development by representing the team in international tournaments; the only problem I can foresee is if a player is signed to one team in the KHL but is drafted by an NHL team - the player would have to honour their contract regardless
  • Playing a shorter season and having another competitive tournament to compete in means that NHL players have less time off the ice
  • With the World Championship and new tournament, players eliminated from the playoffs can still represent both their team and country in the off-season, contract permitting

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Players to Sign / Players to Avoid

Two Players to Avoid

1. Derek Morris
  • BTN (+/-) rating of -14 based on GFON of 35 and GAON of 49
  • BTN reports Morris as having a -8.2 Corsi number
  • NHL (+/-) rating of -10 and 7 out of his 20 points were attained on special teams, accounting for 35% of his total offense
For someone who is touted as an offensive defenseman, this guy is a defensive and offensive black hole by any statistical measure. His Corsi number would be understandable if he was a defensive defenseman, but his Corsi is even lower than Rob Scuderi (-7.9), whose main job is not to rush the puck but rather to get rid of it as quickly as he can.

Basically, Morris is a pretty bad choice as an offensive defenseman. And if the numbers are any indication, he wouldn't be a very good defensive defenseman either.

2. Niclas Havelid
  • BTN stats are pretty much on par with Steve Staios with nearly identical Corsi, (+/-), GFON and GAON, and for TOI/60
  • They are about the same age
  • Havelid had better QUALTEAM than Staios (yes, we mean Strudwick)
Havelid makes more money than Staios for doing pretty much the same job and we all love Steady Steve but Grebs is just one of the D-men on this team running laps around him. Adding Havelid would be a mistake.

Two Players to Sign

1. Alex Tanguay
  • 50 GP, 16-25-41 with 24 PIM
  • 2008-09 Salary of about 5.4 million
  • Corsi of -8.5 and a BTN (+/-) of +10
  • NHL (+/-) of +13
  • Condition: He has to take a pay cut over a term shorter than 4 years (perhaps a 2 year deal)
After a season like the one he just had, I think Tanguay would be willing to take a pay cut to stay in the NHL. He's still relatively young (29 yrs old) and has a few years of his best productivity ahead of him. Any deal shy of 4 years (perhaps a 2 year deal) could still yield great results out of Tanguay. However, it would require Tanguay to make Penner-like money to make it even close to financially feasible, along with the Oilers losing a few big ticket contracts (cough Souray, cough Nilsson).

One thing that stands out to me is that Tanguay is positive in all (+/-) departments despite being outshot so badly while on the ice. QUALCOMP and QUALTEAM don't really shed much light on this tidbit and hopefully a Montreal Canadiens fan could help me out on this front.

2. Christian Backman
  • 2008-09 Salary of about 3.4 million
  • Size and strength to clear away opposing forwards from the front of the net
  • BTN stats indicate he has a Corsi of 13.8 and a BTN (+/-) of +6, which puts him in good company, though he lacks the offense of others in this category, such as Brian Campbell (52 points) and Dan Boyle (57 points), it would seem he's doing something right by perhaps keeping the puck in the zone or getting a lot of shots through to the net from the point; one thing's for certain, he manages to keep the puck out of his zone for most of the time he's on the ice
  • Condition: Steve Staios has to go
Backman makes less than Souray but more than Staios; in all honesty, I would rather him than Staios though, because he would make a good complement to an offensive juggernaut, perhaps Souray or perhaps Visnovsky. Experience gives Backman the advantage over Smid, who has loads of potential but isn't quite "there" yet.

The question is though, is Backman really worth 700 k more than Steve Staios? I think so. At his age and his given abilities, he could be a good replacement for Steady Steve at about 700 k more.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lifetime Deals: Every skilled free agent is apparently a franchise player

Howson on the Rick Nash signing:
"He allowed us some flexibility," Howson said. "He's aware that by signing this contract that other players will be able to get paid as well."
I wonder what his original contract demands were. At 7.8 million per year, there aren't many players making more than Rick Nash: only Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin, Staal, and he's tied with Brad Richards. Would you say he is he worth more than:
  • Zdeno Chara
  • Niklas Lidstrom
  • Jarome Iginla
  • Roberto Luongo
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Joe Thornton
  • Pavel Datsyuk
I realize that the market prices for free agents fluctuates, and plus, who wouldn't take a discount to play in Detroit? But with the cap going down in the upcoming years and the price for free agents continuously increasing, we could be seeing the last off season where player free agents can sign outlandish long term contracts with large cap hits. When the cap goes down, I think we won't be seeing any more Marian Hossa or Danny Briere type of lifetime deals. It's just not plausible to treat every free agent player like a franchise player. It's fair to say that Rick Nash is as close as it gets to a franchise player in a Ryan Smyth type of way, but not in a Iginla, Zetterberg, and Luongo type of way. Simply put, Rick Nash is a great poward forward, but we haven't seen him dominate the league or lead his team deep into the playoffs, or make the players around him better. So far, he's been a good World Championships player.

But Danny Briere? Brian Campbell? Come on. These aren't franchise players. It's because the market is full of these crappy contracts that Rick Nash is "worth" 7.8 million per year. GM's can't keep signing these guys to ridiculous contracts because not all these guys are franchise players (whether the Thomas Vanek situation applies is up for debate, because at his cap hit, I bet the Sabres are thanking the Oilers now).

I just wonder how many of these lifetime deals included NMCs and NTCs?

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Development Camp '09

No Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson or Anton Lander. :-(


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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Move 1: Nikolai Khabibulin

Nikolai Khabibulin is an Oiler.

4 years @ 15 million (3.75/year).

Roloson signs in NYI for 2 years for 5 million (2.5/year).

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Gomez VS Heatley

First things first, I'm in the camp that likes a Heatley acquisition. And there are also those of you who are in the anti-Heatley camp. Reports are that he's going to sleep on it and maybe he'll waive his clause or maybe he'll reject the trade.

Who knows.

But for those who are worried that Heatley will wake up and decide to be an Oiler... that he brings loads of offense but also defensive liability... that he brings tons of intensity but no team spirit... I say:

At least we might be getting Dany Heatley for 7.5 million instead of Scott Gomez for 7.4 - I feel bad for Montreal fans tonight.

Gomez is worth 4.5 in the last year of his contract and Heatley is worth 5 in his, so there isn't even an advantage in terms of a cap reduction "last year of contract" UFA swap deal (a la Ryan Smyth NYI or Keith Tkachuk ATL). I think it's not even close if you want to compare Gomez to Heatley. Heatley has done pretty much what Gomez has done, and then some, in 200 less NHL games and he's almost 2 years younger. Value-wise, Gomez is not even within a pubic hair of the current Senators winger.

Simply put, if we acquire Heatley, at least we'll be better off than the Habs. That's not very reassuring to those of you who don't like Heatley, but we can't all agree.

Looks like I'll be looking for a new 2nd favourite team after July 1st.

1. Edmonton
2. Montreal



Rumours are that Antropov wants a 5 year, 25 million dollar contract. Originally, I was interested in landing Antropov to flank Gagner's line.

Now I think it's Antropov's ticket to the KHL.

See you later Nik, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

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