Big Money in Our Town

News today (it’s in the Journal, I’d post a link but it is 20 miles long) that Katz has “clinched the Oiler deal.” Also contained in the article are long rambling sentences about him keeping the team in Edmonton which has never really been an issue but seemed to be a media slant on the story.

How in God’s name you can frame that issue (“local rich guy wants to BUY THE OILERS and move them far away!”) and sell papers is beyond me but there’s plenty of information available in the Journal today on the subject of the EIG negotiating and making certain Katz didn’t relocate.

I could see it if there was an angle AT ALL! Maybe he’s connected to business interests in Houston or Seattle or Kansas City or Las Vegas (or as a hat tip to our friend in photo, Atlantic City).

There are more interesting angles. For instance:

  1. What areas will he improve? It sounds like getting a new building and a world class practice facility are early priorities and that should actually help in improving the reputation of the Oilers among NHL players and people.
  2. What about Kevin Lowe? Will he stay? I imagine Lowe gets a one year window here (08-09) to show something and there’s always a chance they bump him upstairs and make MacT the General Manager. With MacT already having a larger input into the roster makeup this would seem to be the next logical step. It has been my belief that Lowe will eventually be bumped up the chain and become the face of the team on a community level.
  3. What might he do to improve the team immediately? He could buy out Souray’s contract but doubt that he would unless he fires Kevin Lowe the same day. The Roloson contract is also a possibility for buyout. Katz and his dollars may make the Oilers a more likely destination for players who fall outside the usual draft window (Fabian Brunnstrom is a current example).
  4. What about long term improvement? The procurement department is already going through some changes (Prendergast’s role has changed so the guys who are compiling this year’s draft list have a different dynamic) and this may be an area Katz can leave his footprint almost immediately. IF he decides that a new amateur scouting staff is in order, that he’d like to be a player in that extremely lucrative college free agent market (two recent acquisitions, Penner and Glencross, went this route) or that he can have an impact in making Edmonton a more attractive place for free agents to land then these are areas we may see some positive change.
  5. Could he turn this team around quickly? Oh yeah, I think so. The Oilers aren’t that bad a hockey club, they just have some gaps, some injury trouble and are putting a lot of young people in a position to fail. A nucleus of Hemsky, Horcoff, Penner, Pitkanen, Gilbert and a few others added to the nice young talent means this team could turn it around with a few wise contracts. The Souray deal certainly means there can be zero tolerance for overspending elsewhere.
  6. When will we notice changes? I have no idea how the NHL processes ownership changes and the trade deadline is coming soon, but certainly by the draft and July 1 free agency Katz should have had his say about direction.
  7. What would an encouraging period leading up to the draft look like? Signing Pitkanen and Gilbert long term to good money contracts is a nice start. An active deadline that sees the Oilers clear some salary (they badly need to) is a priority. If Kevin Lowe can find a taker for Dwayne Roloson or Jarret Stoll then he might be able to keep Steve Staios, but I suspect #24 is on his way to San Jose for a pick in the top 40. He’ll need to give the new direction some breathing room in terms of salary cap. I should also mention here my greatest fear for this team is that they trade Pitkanen because they cannot slide him into the Souray blueline so we should be prepared for it.
  8. Is there any hope for the 08-09 season? Yes. I think the ownership change comes at a great time. Bill James once wrote (in an article about how the Seattle Mariners waste young talent) that during his time in the army a new commander would come in and paint the mess hall and alter the daily routine slightly. Morale improved. Two years later, new commander comes in. What does he do? Paints the mess hall, alters the daily routine slightly. Morale improves. A fresh start is a fresh start even if it is only changing the deck chairs around.

Generally speaking I’m as encouraged about this new owner as you can be without knowing what he’ll do chapter and verse. He is young, can relate to million dollar hockey players and their needs (real or imagined) much better than the EIG. We’ll know how good a deal this is when the players begin to speak (it’s already started a little, Moreau said some nice things the other day) but as we sit here Sunday morning idling in the driveway I think this baby is going to kick some ass out on the highway.

Here’s hoping they take it to the limit.

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17 Responses to "Big Money in Our Town"

  1. HBomb says:

    Why I am up this early on a Sunday morning after a night of imbibing heavily, I will not know (gotta love B-day parties, but thank God for Perrier water and extra-strength Advil).

    Anyways, in my boredom yesterday afternoon, I was flyin’ through some YouTube videos and watched a bunch of highlights of the 2006 playoffs. It would bring a tear to one’s eye to think that the Oilers were *this* close to winning it all not 20 months ago. Since then though? Outside of the Hemsky contract, the Garon signing, the emergence of Gilbert, and drafting Sam Gagner, a hell of a lot has gone bad for this organization.

    Let’s hope that Katz in command is the first step towards getting this team back in the finals for sometime between 2010 and 2012. Hopefully the story ends with that 16th win in mid-June one of those years. The fans of this town deserved a better fate in 2006, and hopefully redemption comes for us just like it came for all 37 Ducks fans in 2007 for that 7th game heartbreak against New Jersey in 2003.

    Signing Gilbert and Pitkanen would be a good start though….championship teams are built blueline out these days, and 25/77 could be an elite top pairing in 2 years time.

  2. Mr DeBakey says:

    “He could buy out Souray’s contract”

    That would leave the Oilers with a $1.8 Million cap hit for the next 8 years, wouldn’t it?


  3. HBomb says:

    1.8 million cap hit?

    I thought that 2/3rds value buyout thing was only for the first summer after the lockout. Wouldn’t the cap hit be 2.7 million per season for 8 years?

    Someone want to clarify this?

  4. Mr DeBakey says:

    You give him two-thirds [$3.6] spread over twice as many years.

    that’s what I thought

    I am certainly prepared to be corrected however.

  5. Dennis says:

    If Katz want’s to Justify My Love, he’ll buy Souray the fuck out and turf Combover McGee.

    Papa Don’t Preach bcause Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.

    Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

  6. nameht says:

    Here is the link to the article for anyone interested

  7. jon says:

    Katz has been painted as reclusive so maybe he will not be that interested in putting his footprint on the team. However, I’m sure he sits down with K.Lowe and MacT and says you have till all star break next year.

    Lowe then sends Roloson and JFJ (gotta give for them to absorb salary) to Carolina for a draft pick in the top 90.
    Sends Marty and Pouliot to a team for a pick in the top 60.Giving the Oilers a first a second and a third

    Resigns Joni.P and Gilbert causing the oilers to hover close to the cap but still under.

    Trade Robbie Schremp and the draft picks to move up as close as he can to Burkey to avoid embarresment over the pick.

    Signs Alex Auld in the off-season for peanuts to backup Garon.

    Lowe and MacT cross their fingers and hope that this lineup is good enough to compete for the eighth spot next year or they are gone.
    And you know what, one year older for the kids and a healthy team is good enough for a spot.

  8. toqueboy says:

    souray’s contract is large and iunderstand people’s desire to get rid of it…but i don’t think it’s the big problem…tons of teams have a shitty 5 million dollar contract and still manage the cap fine…colorado with theodore’s contract comes to mind…sure they’d like it off the books, but you certainly dont hear about it with the fervor that oiltown dogs the souray deal…personally…i dont mind the souray deal if we get a healthy next season….signing a guy who already has an injury and then making him play through it is stupid…i’d rather have treated souray like a thoroughbred and get him the surgery he needed right after he signed and then have him start the season when he’s healthy (jan/feb)

    our issue is all the average play that comes from our two million dollar players…a lot of people say we need more ‘nhl’ players…but it’s our nhl players that are causing most the issues with our salary situation…frankly we dont have one player making 2 miilionish who is making their money…and it’s thos guys who awere/are supposed to be our nhl core: pisani, moreau, stoll, torres, staois,sanderson…

    i think most of our young are performing at or exceeding their contracts…with exception of probalby gagne…who is a ridiculous ‘keep up’ at 1.6m

  9. jon says:

    an interesting player who might be had is Kyle Chipchura. The Habs have to feel that they can make some noise this year with the proper pieces and Chipchura only plays under 12 min a night for them and he has Trevor Linden potential written all over him. With Reasoner gone he could solidify our 3rd line of
    Captian M, Chipchura, Brodziak.

    If K.Lowe sells it is these types of players that we should be getting back, players with potential, just not for a cup run.

    Does anyone else feel that the trading of GlenX spells the end of JFJ. Both are big LW’s, both play a physical game, JFJ has higher upside but with Penner and Torres he is a bit redundant.

  10. toqueboy says:

    could you please elaborate on fabian…not being familiar with him…i’m a little blurry on your point

  11. Lowetide says:

    toqueboy: He slipped through the draft and is a de facto free agent at an extremely young age. There is something of a bidding war going on (call it Forsberg light) and it looks like the usual suspects (Det, Phi, Ott) are getting mentioned.

    The Oilers need to be a team that can compete each spring for NCAA free agents and the times when a guy like this Swede slip through and then emerge.

    During Kevin Lowe’s time as GM, he has signed Conklin, Bergeron and someone else I’m forgetting in this way but the Oilers could and should be a bigger player imo.

  12. HBomb says:

    lowetide: Wouldn’t the third guy you’re forgetting be an Oilogosphere favorite, one Patrick Thoresen?

    Easy to forget, since when said signing happened (spring 2006)….we were all a tad distracted.

  13. PunjabiOil says:

    Stuff like this is why this is one of the top blogs for NHL fans everywhere.

  14. Mr DeBakey says:

    Bryan Marshall- Nebraska-Omaha ['83]
    Ryan Cruthers-Robert Morris['84]
    Simon Lambert-RIT ['83]
    Matt Fornataro-New Hampshire ['85]

    Three of these guys are in the top-10 of NCAA scoring, Fornataro is tied for 13th.

    None of them have been drafted.
    They’re all at least 6 ft tall.
    All under 200 lbs.
    The best is at 1.53 Pts/G, the worst at 1.22.
    All are Seniors.
    All are Forwards.
    Are any of them players?

    Are there scoutng reports around on them?

  15. Lowetide says:

    I’ve come across Fornato’s name when checking on Van Riemsdyk this winter but that’s all I have.

  16. Lord Bob says:

    It’s pretty easy for older guys to put up points in the NCAA without actually being much good: being seniors they tend to get the primo ice time and, like the 19- and 20-year-olds of the CHL teams, the fact that they have those extra years under their belt give them a big advantage.

    The NCAA is a weird league. We talk about guys the Oilers steal undrafted, but Conklin’s the only guy who came from the NCAA and he’s a goalie. Even then, there are no sure signs: Dom Vicari had an NCAA season for the ages a couple years ago and he got an NHL contract. Last time I saw him, he was my waiter at the Old Spaghetti Factory on Douglas Street.

  17. Lord Bob says:

    Oh, one more thing I forgot to mention in my previous comment.

    I imagine Lowe gets a one year window here (08-09) to show something and there’s always a chance they bump him upstairs and make MacT the General Manager.

    What’s my reaction to this idea? Ah, yes, now I remember. It was something like yelling “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” until I spat blood.

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