One of the things that bugs me about hockey media is their tendency to careen based on the game’s most recent events. A year ago, everyone was going to copy the Buffalo Sabres template of “small, skilled and explosive” and this season based on reports everyone is going to play the Ducks tough, Canadian style.

The same basic premise is being rolled out in regard to free agency. I’ve heard and read from several different sources that “the big clubs are dominating things again” and “see, Philly, NYR and Colorado are back on top because the big market teams have found a loophole.”

I don’t believe that’s the case at all. Last season’s final had two also-rans (Oilers, ‘Canes) and this season saw the Ducks and Senators make their first finals appearance ever. Despite what the most recent UFA track record may indicate, it seems to me that we should wait to crown the Rangers (or Colorado, or Philly) the Cup champions.

There’s several teams who look like they’re loaded for a run (including Calgary who’ve done a nice job this summer. Wish the Oilers had a GM who signed his most important future ufa first) and most of them dwell in what can be called “outside the big market axis”. Even Toronto fans seem to have lost their ability to inflate free agency (despite all those Ontario boys heading back to T.O. the first chance they got at UFA).

I think the Oilers can compete on the UFA market, and indeed they signed several last summer. The problem may be partly location, but there’s also the matter of the good free agents wanting to play on a team that has a chance to win.

And increasingly, that’s a team who signs their best future free agents the summer before they have to make a decision, and a team who spend to the cap. Edmonton is a great hockey city. Time for the ownership and management to reflect that by building a winner for the long term.

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10 Responses to "Careen"

  1. jon says:

    Technically the Ducks have been to the finals before. ;)

    I think the big markets dominating the UFA frenzy this year has more to do with the current state of their teams. NYR, PHI, and COL were all coming off of seasons on the rebuild and hence had massive amounts of cap room even before the end of the season. Other teams from “small markets” like Edmonton, Buffalo, and NYI are suffering mainly from the perception that they are either cheap (Edmonton, Buffalo) or undesirable locations (Edmonton, NYI, Buffalo).

  2. Big T says:

    Katz is apparently making another offer, this time for $190MM. Wonder if that’s the impidus that would be needed to make the changes your talking about LT.

    Couldn’t agree more with your points regarding attracting free agents. Players just didn’t think the Oilers could win without Pronger. Simple as that.


  3. Lowetide says:

    jon: Damn you! You’re supposed yo gloss over my mistakes! Agree on the cap room in those cities, and I’m surprised Sather didn’t spend more on D.

    big t: Katz is the best option from what I can see. The EIG is beginning to come into focus and their mission statement seems to involve phrases like “bah humbug” and “maybe he should have divorced her and honored the contract.”

    WHO on planet earth wants to be associated with the wrong side?

  4. Kyle says:

    I keep hoping Katz is a hands off Cuban type character. In a lot of ways the ownership group in Edmonton can only improve.

  5. Dennis says:

    It’s sick that they’ve set a limit at 45 mill. Especially when they’ve been making money for awhile now and the dollar is so strong that the Oilers are one of the teams that could’ve pulled a signing and front-loaded it in terms of actual cash paid out.

  6. Asiaoil says:

    Dennis – don’t you know how vital it is the have $20 million in effective cap space ready to go in March for the mythical playoff push. We just can’t be caught short with anything less ;)

  7. godot10 says:

    //Wish the Oilers had a GM who signed his most important future ufa first) and most of them dwell in what can be called “outside the big market axis”.//

    Signing your most importants UFA’s is a lot easier when they take a 25% hometown discount like Iginla and Regehr did.

    It is Smyth’s right to go for the money. It is Lowe’s right not to give it to him.

  8. Black Dog says:

    yeah but today Lowe wishes he had done things differently with Smyth – if only he had known the Cap would be this high he would have signed him for sure.

    Uh, huh?

  9. CADIEUX KID says:

    I think we all need to stop crying about people not wanting to come to Etown and just deal with what it is. Its a well known fact that people dont think Etown is a place they would want to live. So what can we do about it?

    Start the focus of the organization simular to what Buffalo does, and thats have a strong farm system that pumps out quality players that fill holes when players go for green or greener pastures. And they know the system and are more comfortable in the role they are called up to fill.

    Lets just bite the bullet and let the kids play this year, find out who’s going to have a career and who’s not. Start developing that farm team into a machine that pumps out prospects into pros. I just get sick when people talk about bring in halfass 30somethings in for a very phoenix looking team. Let them Play and lets have some fun.

    Lets face it, we are not getting back to the SCF for at least a few years so lets all relax and let Klowe do his job. Maybe Klowe should bring in Stan Weir to Scare players into signing low long term deals in Etown. Cant hurt.

  10. James Mirtle says:

    Excellent post, LT. This is pretty much exactly what I’ve been trying to articulate the past few days (and you’ve managed it in far fewer words/posts).

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