Back in the spring of 1976, the New York Rangers moved Emile Francis out of the general manager’s job and replaced him with John Ferguson. In modern terms, this is about equal to firing David Poile and replacing him with Jeremy Roenick. The move was an upgrade in terms of fame but the nuts and bolts of getting the job done are about a lot of tedious chores.
- Ken McKenzie, The Hockey News April 1976: John Ferguson, the new general manager-coach, is far from pleased with the players he inherited from (Emile) Francis and he makes no bones about saying so. In fact, there is no love lost between Francis and Ferguson. Walt Tkaczuk is said to be almost certain to leave New York. Bill Fairbairn and Gilles Marotte are the other members of the Rangers who might move before next season rolls around.
John Ferguson didn’t like a lot about the Rangers, and he was damn sure going to fix the problem in a quick damn hurry. In May 1976, a month after the quote above, Ferguson sent young winger Rick Middleton to the Boston Bruins for famous (and aging) winger Kenny Hodge. Hodge, 31, scored 25 goals and 61 points in 1975-76, and was familiar with Phil Esposito (recently acquired by the Rangers). Middleton, 22, scored 24 goals and 50 points, while making the errors of youth. Ferguson couldn’t put up with the problem any longer, and shipped out Middleton. Hodge would have one productive season in NYC, played fewer than 20 games the following year, and be out of organized hockey by 1980. Middleton? In 1980-81, he scored 103 points, retired in 1987-88 and scored over 400 goals as a Bruin. Why did Ferguson trade Middleton, instead of Tkaczuk, Marotte or Billy Fairbairn? The market spoke and the market did not want John Ferguson’s fading role players. So, rookie general manager he was, Ferguson sent away a borderline hall of famer for a spent force. Le holy.
Photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved
I love the entire hockey calendar, but the period leading up to draft and free agency is perhaps my favorite. Maybe it has to do with hope and reparation, or maybe it’s about the weather. For the third year in a row Peter Chiarelli has a list of things to do, although the work is far less than in previous summers.
My prelude today serves as a backdrop to something I’ve been thinking about for the last 24 hours or so. Most Oilers fans are in favor of trading Jordan Eberle for a load of hay, today, but I’m thinking that is unwise. Without a proven RW (aside from Leon Draisaitl) Edmonton could enter training camp with a less than ideal depth chart. The big item is this: You have to give to get. Offering Walt Tkazcuk, Billy Fairbairn and Gilles Marotte didn’t get John Ferguson far, maybe Peter Chiarelli doesn’t get an attractive offer for Eberle. As was the case last season, we may see a more valuable player exit because the market speaks.
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PETER CHIARELLI’S SUMMER 2017 LIST
- Get Connor McDavid signed to a long-term contract. ($10-13 million times 8?)
- Get Leon Draisaitl signed to a long-term contract. ($7-9 million times 8?)
- Negotiate the expansion draft rapids without giving up a valuable piece of the future. (Griffin Reinhart, Jujhar Khaira, Mark Letestu)
- Find a way to trade Benoit Pouliot off the roster. (trade with LV or buyout)
- Find a second pairing D with two-way acumen. (Hamonic, Franson, Kris Russell)
- Find a bottom 6F who can help the offense. (Cizikas, Sutter)
- Find a way to cover off buried contracts. (Fayne)
- Make enough cap room to get everyone in under the number with enough room to spare for the trade deadline.
This is a list I published earlier in the week. Several items have come to the fore since then and I wanted to update (and will tweak at the end, no peeking you). Let’s get to it.
- Get Connor McDavid signed to a long-term contract. The range for McDavid seems to be all over the place, with the most popular total being eight years and $97 million. That works out to $12.125 million per year, and would mean the 97+29=close to $20 million beginning in 2017-18. That’s a lot of money, but if you expect $9.7 million a year for CMD, I’m going to suggest 97 is leaving about $20 million on the table. Seems crazy to me. Further reading can be done here, as Pierre Lebrun (in November) talked about a possible lockout impacting the length of the deal (source). Perhaps the deal is for four years.
- Get Leon Draisaitl signed to a long-term contract. We seem to be getting some interesting guesses now, outer marker being Vladimir Tarasenko and his $7.5 times eight years ($60 million total). I am still hoping something around $7M per year gets it done.
- Negotiate the expansion draft rapids without giving up a valuable piece of the future. I generally believe the Oilers are not exposed too much in this expansion draft, but do confess to worrying a little about losing Jujhar Khaira. Most of the time valuing a mid-level prospect highly is a mistake, but I think Khaira is a plug-and-play for 4L and way less expensive (<$1M) than Matt Hendricks. May not be able to PK for a couple of years, but I like his skill set.
- Find a way to trade Benoit Pouliot off the roster. I have been trying to figure a way to shoehorn Nuge, Eberle and Russell onto next year’s roster, and Pouliot is a key player here. They could do it by sending down Puljujarvi until his cap bonuses burn off, and trading Benoit Pouliot. If they bought out Pouliot, sent Mark Fayne down it might work (JP’s bonus might trip them up).
- Find a second pairing D with two-way acumen. It comes down to Russell if the organization likes him and I think they do. I’ll have a 23-man roster at the bottom and Russell at $4M could work in a tight fit. If that doesn’t get it done, I think the anson is Franson.
- Find a bottom 6F who can help the offense. I listed Casey Cizikas last time, people asked how the Oilers could get him. Jordan Eberle? The one player who might be available via free agency, who could help the offense, is Sam Gagner. Price point would be the issue and the Jackets used him as 4F and PP1. That’s the Letestu role. What about Ryan Strome?
- Find a way to cover off buried contracts. I don’t know that it will be possible. I’m also uncertain about the reported overage from last season due to bonuses.
- Make enough cap room to get everyone in under the number with enough room to spare for the trade deadline. This will be the greatest challenge for Peter Chiarelli this summer. Seriously.
PROJECTING THE SUMMER
Allow me to project some of Edmonton’s summer, and then post the roster that could come out of it.
- Oilers lose Benoit Pouliot in the expansion draft to the LV Golden Knights. Edmonton sends Caleb Jones to the Golden Knights as a sweetener after the draft.
- Oilers sign Cody Franson to a one-year, $3.5 million contract.
- Oilers sign Jordan Oesterle to a value contract (one-way deal).
- Oilers bury Mark Fayne’s contract.
PROJECTED 2017-18 ROSTER
- This is not my ideal roster, this is a roster put together in order to prove the Oilers can keep Nuge and Eberle while addressing RHD and needs at forward.
- Cody Franson has been mentioned many times on this blog and elsewhere. Although he isn’t everyone’s ideal, his underlying numbers are good and he can help the Oilers in areas of need. Kris Russell is also an option, but I don’t think he will stay in Edmonton’s cap model.
- I have listed eligible players with all of their bonuses (McDavid, Puljujarvi, Nurse, Caggiula), so Peter Chiarelli could get more room by (as a for instance) sending down Puljujarvi until the bonus worry on his contract has subsided.
This is not what I would do. I’ll have that for you at 5pm today. That said, I do think there are elements in this roster that probably make sense for Peter Chiarelli. One thing I wrote here that I do not believe will happen: Franson. I think PC is probably trying to figure a way to get Kris Russell on this roster and make room for it by moving a bigger contract than Pouliot. One thing to remember: Oilers will need room at the deadline for added firepower. This is a season when Chiarelli will load up if Edmonton is in position. More at 5.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun morning, lots of chat and that of course includes the Oilers. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. Oilers run falls short but what a year!
- Trevor Wear, Halfway to Halloween Mayhem. The man who took an iconic photo of Leon Draisaitl drops in to talk about how you can help the Stollery and have a blast.
- Jared Book, Habs Eyes on the Prize and Bluebird Banter. How do Habs fans feel about Subban? Are the Jays for real? (no).
- Paul Almeida, SSE. Did the Oilers earn enough respect to get more calls next spring?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.