Oilers Too Close to Roster Limit to Sign Any More Players

Craig MacTavish has his 49 players and he’s going to have to find enough talent there to win hockey games. An article in today’s Edmonton Sun details the Oilers situation in regard to a talented young Russian who is at rookie camp (Vitaly Karamnov) and the fact that the Oilers can’t sign them because there are too many Allan Rourke’s and Tim Sestito’s.

It is another example of how the Edmonton Oilers have mis-read the summer. With Mike Johnson still available, and Fernando Pisani gone for what looks like it might be a lifetime, MacTavish will have to elevate yet another young player to the major league roster.

Last spring we saw what could happen when too many young players played too many tough minutes, and the Oilers look ill-prepared for this season at the starting pole. You may recall the chaos that was the goaltending situation in fall ’05 (which was straightened out with the Roloson trade), the lack of NHL veteran defensemen in fall ’06 (they sent away Pronger, Spacek, you know the list) and now there is a distinct lack of NHL forwards.

And even then there are question marks. Let’s look at the list of NHL veteran forwards on the Oilers roster:

  1. Geoff Sanderson- Veteran player suddenly very important (1063 NHL games)
  2. Ethan Moreau- He needs to stay healthy (685 NHL games)
  3. Shawn Horcoff- Healthy, as fit as anyone in the league (427 NHL games)
  4. Marty Reasoner- Health and effectiveness an issue (383 NHL games)
  5. Ales Hemsky- It’s his team now (275 NHL games)
  6. Raffi Torres- It’s vital he steps us this season (275 NHL games)
  7. Jarret Stoll- He better be healthy (205 NHL games)
  8. Dustin Penner- As famous as anyone on the roster (101 NHL games)
  9. Patrick Thoresen- He’ll play a bigger role this year (68 NHL games)
  10. Robert Nilsson- Barely more than a rookie himself (57 NHL games)
  11. Marc Pouliot- He’ll be taking on some big responsibility (54 NHL games)
  12. Jean Francois Jacques- He may not make the club (44 NHL games)
  13. Zack Stortini- May be 4line RW (29 NHL games)
  14. Rob Schremp- Healthy and has a shot (1 NHL game)

Let’s put these guys in categories:

  1. 1 player (Sanderson) beyond his prime by a few seasons.
  2. 2 players (Moreau, Reasoner) who could perhaps be entering a time in their career where injuries eat away a few games each season.
  3. 1 player (Horcoff) in his prime.
  4. 4 players (Hemsky, Torres, Stoll, Penner) progressing nicely and looking like a very nice cluster (with Stoll, perhaps Hemsky having some injury concerns in this group).
  5. 3 players (Thoresen, Nilsson, Pouliot) with about 1 NHL season’s experience trying to get more traction.
  6. 3 players (Jacques, Stortini, Schremp) who are trying to get the foothold Thoresen, Nilsson and Pouliot already have.

After that is #7, which is everybody else. The list would include Cogliano, Gagner and Trukno at the top, and then sift down to the college kids like Colin McDonald and David Rohlfs.

The fact that Allan Rourke’s on the 49-man list and that may keep this team from adding Mike Johnson is incredible. The fact that the Oilers are offering this up as a reason for not signing Mike Johnson is even more incredible.

Doesn’t anyone want to win hockey games?

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22 Responses to "Oilers Too Close to Roster Limit to Sign Any More Players"

  1. danny says:

    As if the EIG would be willing to pay Pisani AND Mike Johnson. How difficult is it to get rid of a few roster bodies? Too convenient a reason for not wanting to pony up and replace Fernando. Local media to the EIG’s rescue once again.

  2. James L. says:

    I hate the EIG with every fibre of my body.

    What are our options? Can we let dinks like Rourke and Sestito go on waivers? Will anyone pick those clowns up??

    This is becoming a farce that never ends.

  3. Bank Shot says:

    Anyone have an idea what the White Knight…err Mike Johnson is looking for in terms of salary and length of contract?

    One year at $2 million or so is livable. If he wants something like 3 years how do you justify paying two bottom six right wingers (Pisani,Johnson) over $4 million bucks?

    Dvorak, Bonk, and Peca are around $1.5 million. I’m not sure what Johnson brings over them. I think Mike must be overvaluing himself.

  4. Bank Shot says:

    PS. It kind of seems like the flurry of useless defense signings was an over reaction to the injury situation last season.

    It seems like in Lowe’s over reaction in one area, he will hurt the Oilers in another.

  5. Scott says:

    Hooray. We’re fucking dead.

  6. timokamuraartworks says:

    Scott said…
    Hooray. We’re fucking dead.

    Look on the bright side -think of it as the pre-climactic James Bond unneccessarily complicated but fun to watch death scenario – it’s the ‘strapped to a table with a red-hot “laser” slowly cutting it’s way towards your balls’ conundrum…

  7. timokamuraartworks says:

    Bank shot … I agree with both your comments.

    Again, I think Mike Johnson could be a helpful player, but in the “big picture” isn’t it just a band-aid? Sure, his presence could help win a few more games – and of course we do need NHL players -but is it really the difference-maker in terms of gaining a playoff position? Does signing Mike Johnson really guarantee the OIlers fare a lot better in the NW division, and don’t end up giving Burke a quality/impact player in the 2008 draft? How long is Pisani going to be out for? Does anyone know this?

    It seems to me the Oil have no choice but to see what the kids can do -they have painted themselves in to a corner, let’s accept that – and it will probably be a rough start ot the season, but hopefully this year’s D can anchor things enough to hold it together through what is bound to be a series of personnel/line combo experiments and perhaps we have some pleasant surprises in store… And, yes, Lowe did get over- excited on the D signings – Tarnstrom looks to be the extraneous piece right now…. there’s your Mike Johnson money.

    Finally, I do think it’s quite possible Gagner gets a look at right wing to start the season, maybe half a dozen games, in the same way Chicago gives Kane a opening shot…. as much for political reasons as anything else. If he even has a half-way decent camp, he gets a look…

  8. Vic Ferrari says:

    Well, they would just dump a player then. For example: Rourke and a 6th round draft pick to NYI for a 7th round pick. Voila! The Oilers really should have a no-making-shit-up week, just one week each year. I think they’d find that it isn’t as terrifying as they imagine.

    Good Lord, I think I’ve reached the point where I’m not even insulted by this nonsense any more. It’s just funny now.

    I agree with Bank Shot as well, in that adding a couple of good NHL forwards isn’t nearly enough on it’s own to get the ANA draft pick safely into double digits overall. That defense corps looks freaking dreadful, I don’t care how much ass they kick according to EA Sports.

  9. James L. says:

    Is it possible that our D is worse than it was when we started the 2006-07 season?

    Yes, I think it is.

  10. PunjabiOil says:

    Eerily similar to the thread on HF;)

    As I suggested on HF, a trade such as Reddox + 5th for 6th rounder or as the above mentioned Vic Ferrari’s deal, would get the job done.

    To be fair, it was the WRITERS interpretation that the Oilers won’t sign the Russian kid because of the limit – no direct quote from the Oilers organization. It hasn’t been the first time the Sun has been lazy.

    Question – do strictly AHL contracts count against the big club?

  11. PunjabiOil says:

    Lets be realistic guys – the defence IS in better shape than last year.

    AND guys like Smid and Greene have got an extra 400 AB behind them.

  12. Lowetide says:

    James: Well Greene and Smid have a year’s NHL experience now for what it’s worth.

    In baseball teams will sometimes trade for a pitcher because they feel like they can add a foot to his fastball with a mechanical adjustment or teach him the split-finger.

    I don’t really know a hockey example of this, but the Oilers have had success bringing in veteran NHL defenders and improving their batting average.

    This is the ONLY hope I have for the D.

  13. Black Dog says:

    I’m a guy who thinks Penner may be a good move but looking at this team there are just a ton of holes. Even before Pisani went down by my count there were two spots in the top nine that were going to be taken by MP, Thoresen or Nilsson. And that was having MP playing with Moreau and Pisani. Now its looking much worse.

    Best case is Pisani will be back around November 1st.

    But as Vic said, its not like up front is the only place where there are issues. This D has two guys who can play top 4 imo – Joni and Staios. That would be a terrific second pair.

    And they have a bunch of 5-7s.

    Not a great combo – I love Gilbert, Grebeshkov intrigues me and even Greene may make some strides. But it is going to take a miracle for this to be a playoff level D. They will move the puck much better and the PP will certainly be better, I think, but the D is as big a dog’s breakfast as the forwards.

  14. Art Vandelay says:

    That Sanderson wasn’t bought out five minutes after the trade was approved at NHL head office tells us everything about EIG’s motivations.

  15. Bank Shot says:


    John/Shultz played the talent. Carney/Burns played the crap. Skoula played with Nummelin and Foster and the latter two got throttled.

    That’s a playoff D-core. Is the Oilers core worse?

    Pitkanen-Staios …

    Probably, but perhaps the gap between the lowest GAA group in the league and the Oilers isn’t that much. The Minny group is really no screaming heck, so it seems pretty possible for the Oilers to keep the goals against down with a group of D-men that isn’t top flight.

    I don’t mind this D-core if the Oilers trap like 17th century fur traders. They should be able to put up a league average or better GAA.

  16. godot10 says:

    The biggest problem signing the Russian prospect may be agreeing on a salary, since he has no draft position to set the scale and the amount of the guarenteed signing bonus.

  17. Bohologo says:

    LT-I’m not as concerned about this as others, and here’s why:
    -29 other teams have not stampeded to sign Mike Johnson-is it because he’s overpricing himself? Or not that good? As mentioned on HF, his Desjardins numbers are flattering, but the lack of interest speaks volumes
    -Lowe is in a position of weakness, having just lost Pisani, and we can assume that the 29 other GMs read the paper (except for Sutter in Calgary, whom I will assume to be illiterate), so that’s why it’s not a good idea to make a deal now-better wait until Howson has a closer look at his blueline, or similar opportunities
    -if you’ve got 49 guys on a contract, it’s not that hard to dump the Syvret/Reddox types for a low round pick; teams like TB could always use more depth on the farm

    No need to fret-there will be plenty of time for that after training camp…

  18. RiversQ says:

    godot10 said…
    The biggest problem signing the Russian prospect may be agreeing on a salary, since he has no draft position to set the scale and the amount of the guarenteed signing bonus.


    Dan Tencer himself couldn’t have made this nonsense sound so good.

    It should be pretty obvious this kid (whoever he is) doesn’t have a lot of leverage. In fact your rationale is totally backwards.

  19. James Mirtle says:

    What we really need is a post on Rourke’s Desjardins numbers. (And details on the relative health of his colon.)

  20. godot10 says:

    riversq wrote:
    //It should be pretty obvious this kid (whoever he is) doesn’t have a lot of leverage. In fact your rationale is totally backwards.//

    If the Karamnov and his agent view themselves as a 1st round prospect, one is looking at $1.5 million in guarenteed money over three years ($500K per season), or something close to that.

    If they don’t get it, they go to Everett and get drafted high next year and get it.

    You wouldn’t have a future as a player agent.

  21. Vic Ferrari says:

    Well, the notion that the number of players already under contract would be a hindrance to signing a genuine NHL player is idiocy. The first two commenters in this thread already hammered at that I know, but it’s worth repeating.

    So, what is Lowe’s budget now? Did the Oilers take out insurance on Pisani’s contract, and at what rate?

    Nobody will ask these questions. Not even super-journalists like Dan Tencer and James Mirtle. And even if they did Lowe wouldn’t likely give an honest answer.

  22. digger says:


    According to that, the Oilers could sign both Gagner and Karamnov, and it wouldn’t count at all towards the 50 contract limit unless they played more than 10 NHL games, at least until they turn 20 years old:

    (a) Not more than 50 players signed to Standard Player’s Contracts and not less than 24 players and 3 goalkeepers under contract. Age 18 and age 19 players who were returned to Canadian Major Junior Hockey clubs, and who have not played 11 games in the NHL in one season, shall be exempt from inclusion in the 50 player limit.

    I realize the link goes to a site that’s talking about the old CBA, but I thought this was left unchanged in the new CBA.

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