Buy Lowe

I was encouraged to hear that Kevin Lowe might be a buyer at the deadline, at least to the extent that adding veteran NHL talent is a possibility.


Since G7, SCF the Oilers have been making two cardinal errors consistently. First, they are putting young players in a position to fail; when you do that, young players can often stall in terms of development and this certainly has been the case on several levels for the Oilers since the lockout ended. Second, the roster lacks consistency, there are fewer well defined roles.

Do you remember the old Oilers of Weight/Marchant? This was a team that had certain traits and the coach could plug people in as needed. When these players established themselves as able to perform at a certain level, they moved up. Examples include Steve Staios, Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky and many others. Each season three or four key areas would be turned over and the team had sustain overall because much of the roster remained the same.

The problem this team has had since the Pronger trade has been an extreme lack of established NHL players and too many young players in positions of importance they are not yet ready to handle.

It NEVER works.

For three summers running, Kevin Lowe has not been able to put together a roster that addressed needs without making the team weaker in another area. Let’s quickly list the weakness of each team in the last three Octobers:

  • Fall 2005: Questions in goal (addressed Roloson)
  • Fall 2006: Questions on D (never addressed properly)
  • Fall 2007: Too many unproven kids (it’s gotten worse)

So I think beginning the off-season now (at the deadline) is an excellent idea for Kevin Lowe. Instead of dealing for prospects and picks, why not also add in a veteran player who will be useful in the fall?

If we make a list of players who are established enough to return next season (and are either under contract or RFA’s) we get this:

  • GOAL: Garon, Roloson
  • DEFENSE: Pitkanen, Souray, Smid
  • DEFENSE: Gilbert, Staios, Greene, Grebeshkov
  • CENTER: Horcoff, Stoll, Cogliano
  • L WING: Penner, Torres, Moreau, Nilsson
  • R WING: Hemsky, Gagner, Pisani, Brodziak, Stortini

Let’s say one of the teams out of the race is shopping a useful player for next season. Possible player types EDM could use include responsible forwards in the 1.5M range signed through summer 2009, and a veteran center who could replace Stoll if they trade him. If a veteran player is available for Rob Schremp or Marc Pouliot, why wouldn’t you take the deal? The Oilers already have a plethora of RFA’s this summer (forwards include Stoll, Nilsson, Pouliot, Stortini, Thoresen, Jacques) and may have already decided that someone like Pouliot is no longer in the long range plans why not pull the trigger?

Or what if a team out of the race is offering a reliable, veteran defender with a year on his deal and is interested in one of the young, unproven D talents. Why wouldn’t you make the trade? You’ve got a bunch of kids and not all of them can make the grade, F or D.

Why wait? I think Kevin Lowe has proven that turning over huge portions of the roster while not addressing need with established solutions is a poor bet. Why not trade a kid or two now for a veteran with a year left on his contract?

The kids aren’t going to be worth any more this summer. And the Oilers can’t play them all.

God knows they’ve tried.

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40 Responses to "Buy Lowe"

  1. CM says:

    LT, I disagree…I think a large part of the oilers problem is that they have 8 players in the 1.5 – 3 mil range. The oilers are full of young kids yes…but they are also have to many players getting paid 2 million or more to score 10 or less goals…and they don’t have cap space to bring in a star player even if the oppourtunity presented itself…

    I think a good team to model after would be San Jose…most of their money is tied up in their top line…they mostly young kids and cheap veteran players making out their bottom 9…they have lots of room to make a move if needed and they have a good solid core with which to build on…

  2. Black Dog says:

    I agree LT. I think Lowe will buy regardless but he’s really hoping that these guys hang around so he can justify it easily. Pluses for the team are many:

    - after last season’s freefall management owes it to the players to throw them a bone
    - the obvious, that you mentioned, they need vets and have to dump surplus kids
    - moving out of the lottery and don’t believe this is not a consideration – Lowe is too competitive to have Burke shove it to him this summer
    - bring in a guy or two so they can afford to move a vet or two who is underachieving (Souray!? ;))

    I also have a lot of problems with Lowe being a seller – if they give up Stoll without a Horcoff contract then there’s an issue up the middle next year; if they give him up now then you have Cogs and Gagner as 1/2 up the middle – not likely

    Staios needs to stick as the vet on the back end.

    A Pitkanen trade – I don’t know what he’s asking but dumping your best defenceman over money with twenty five games left in the season isn’t going to sit well in the room. I think they have to keep Pitkanen and shed other guys to do it. The whole idea of being unable to pay him because of what Souray’s contract just emphasizes what a disaster that contract is for this organization.

    I know there is debate over Pitkanen and his worth but my question is – when the hell do you pay someone? They wouldn’t pay their best forward last year. If they don’t want to pay Pitkanen this year my question is when do they pay someone?? Do they pay Horcoff?

    Its getting tiresome. At some point you have to pay someone. Trying to recreate ’06 when nearly every guy on the team made around 1 million bucks isn’t likely to happen.

  3. Dave says:

    Darcy Tucker – free to a good home.

  4. Dennis says:

    Pat H: Great job on nailing why that ’06 team was so successful. I think Lain nailed it first but you had a tonne of guys that were outperforming their contracts and that’s unlikely to happen again en masse. Or if it does, it’s hard to believe that one of those guys will be our #1 pivot, ie look at what Horc was making and then compare it to the role he was playing? I don’t think you’ll find that value again.

    One of these days you have to pay someone and trade after trade means the target keeps moving. That’s what Lowe likes though, I think. Excuses in lieu of success so if that bad man Pitkanen wants “more money than he deserves” then gosh darn it Kevin has to trade him and that puts us behind again.

    LT: Well, Mr. BABCOOK:) I guess you and your Mom are getting along quite well because it’s been a long time since attempts to further your Quixotic campaign of Lowe picking up a vet.

    There’s a problem with what you say in this post and with what Lowe’s done recently: one plan’s based in good sense and the other isn’t.

  5. Lowetide says:

    lol. I think he’s about to piss both of us off, Dennis.

    Just a feeling.

  6. Oilman says:

    Dennis….I can’t believe you had such a problem with the Staples statement regarding fans wanting Lowe to fail, but you have no qualms offering up that Lowe likes the money excuse to make the team worse….so the fans don’t want the team to fail to shed Lowe, but Lowe wants the team to fail to shed salary…I find that one hard to buy. Lowes faults may be many – but I don’t think wanting to fail is one of them.

  7. Dennis says:

    Well, let me just say then that Lowe likes to create controversey or excuses which he feels takes the responsbility out of losing.

    Smyth was greedy or wasn’t elite so he didn’t deserve the money.

    Things of that nature:)

  8. Oilman says:

    He’s a good spin doctor (or at least he tries to be)…but I think he thinks he’s either doing what’s right for the team, or he is giving no choice by ownership. We’ll see if the ownership change has any effect….if it doesn’t – then perhaps he’s just a stubborn ass. But I can’t see him letting Pitkanen walk before Batman lets him know how much he can spend and who he likes and dislikes on the team.

  9. Mr DeBakey says:

    the oilers problem is that they have 8 players in the 1.5 – 3 mil range.

    The $2 million dollar player problem – its the flavour of the week.

    Cast your mind back
    12 painful months ago…

    Who was on the line that was tearing up the West?
    Who was the next captain of the Oilers going to be?

    What happened to all that?
    Why isn’t it working anymore?
    Think about it.

    No charge Trade idea:
    Roloson to Tampa
    Nick Tarnasky & Marc Denis in return

  10. Dennis says:

    Comrie and then Smyth.

    The guy’s a stubborn ass.

  11. Lowetide says:

    Pouliot is an RFA with a $942k cap this season so if they qualify him he’s over 1M so if we’re asking ourselves about Pouliot V a useful veteran forward it’s a consideration.

    And when you add in all the kids ahead of Pouliot who are already playing then it’s a solid move if:

    1. the player is signed at a reasonable number.
    2. the player is a useful veteran.
    3. the player is signed through summer 2009.

    What are the negatives?

  12. Ribs says:

    Each season three or four key areas would be turned over and the team had sustain overall because much of the roster remained the same.

    I sure hope the Oilers are looking for more than “sustain” from it’s players. I loved the ol’ team of Dougie and Todd and Smyth and Grier and friends but that was a crap team. Barely getting into the playoffs and never being a legit contender was blamed on money back then, it can’t be today.

    I feel Lowe is going to be playing the waiting game now. That big name player is going to be available one day, right?

    Lowe could get trigger happy and send off some rubble from the scrap heap of prospects but I think it’s secondary thinking for him. He’s looking for the big name, the big trade, the real name players that can help this team for the next 4? years (year 1 of Lowes new 5 year plan now underway).

    And that brings me to the question that I’m sure Lowe mulls over every day….

    Who are those players and how can he get them?

  13. speeds says:

    What are the negatives?

    I don’t know if there are any negatives, but the scenario you are describing is what some of us were talking about last summer in signing Hejda and trading Greene

  14. misfit says:

    There are 7 forwards making between 1.5 and 3 million, and none of them are the problem.

    Sanderson (1.5) – UFA. Off the books next year

    Torres (2.25), Stoll (2.2), and Pisani (2.5) – That was our entire 2nd line last year. Two of whome have missed significant time this year, and the other was recovering from a concussion that ended his season last year. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that these 3 can return to form next year. In fact, you can already see Pisani and Stoll returning to form.

    Ethan Moreau (2) – Captain, reliable vet, and had he not broken his foot in the preseason, he’d probably have reached the 40 points he’s on pace for this year.

    Gagner (1.625) – I think we can all agree that this will peanuts for this player once he’s had some NHL games under his belt. He’s locked in at this rate for another 3 years.

  15. PunjabiOil says:

    Gagner only makes that much if he earns his bonuses. He won’t this year.

    Agreed with LT regarding the 2005-2006 club. A series of over-performing contracts. Hemsky, Horcoff, Stoll all under 1M. Smyth at 3.5. Even Pronger a relative bargain.

    Calgary is in the similar boat – I’ll copy and paste my post from HF

    This is really the year for the Flames to go for the Cup. If it costs Boyd (who is comparable to Robbie Schremp), a first + goalie prospect to land a guy like Sundin/Hossa, I’d do it from the Flames POV.

    The Flames have had lots of guys locked up from pre-lockout contracts or rising players. Langkow (2.35), Kiprusoff (3.3), Regehr (2.0), Huselius (1.5), Phaneuf (entry level – 1M). Now that their contracts have run out, they’re all getting sizable raises and are highly unlikely to over-perform their contracts as they have been in the past 3 years.

    That’s why paying Cory Sarich 3.6M was a dumb, dumb deal. You already don’t have the flexibility, and you end up paying a premium for a guy that isn’t likely to overperform his contract. The Flames needed ”bang for your buck” guys like Hejda, Tanabe, etc. and didn’t choose that route.

    The end result is you’re pressed to the cap with the same team that didn’t get you anywhere – with little room for flexibility. So with that said, this is the year the Flames should make a move. They already messed up back in 2005-2006 by not acquiring Samsonov, who went cheaply. They then proceeded to trade tangible assets for Stuart (Ference and Kobesew) instead of trading a draft pick/prospect(s).

    It’d be shocking if Langkow/Huselius get any less than 4M each. Hell, Michael Handzus got 16M/4 years despite missing 70+ games last year.

  16. namflashback says:

    Yawn. Count me in the camp that says that there will be very little that happens.

    If he re-signs Pitkanen, then you get a team very similar to the once iced this year, but with:
    - hopefully a healthy Torres
    - a healthy Souray?
    - less Reasoner, Sanderson

    Cap increase lets him get this done (assuming he knows which way the cap will go :)

    Sign a bottom six forward for cheap and roll the dice again.


  17. heed says:

    i think calling lowe a buyer is a bit of a stretch. however, if he can get a decent nhl forward with a year or two left on his contract at the deadline, why wouldn’t he? the idea that we would sell off veterans for draft picks is ridiculous. that would just increase the need for lowe to make more deals and with less leverage in the off season. i’m sure we will see one player leave the ship for a draft pick at the deadline but i highly doubt there will be a fire sale. as for pitkanen, if it’s a top 6 forward and a pick / prospect coming our way, consider it (please god don’t let this happen because joni’s skating ability alone makes me openly weep). but for the love of all that is oilers not in our own conference.

  18. rickibear says:

    GlenX(1.0)-Brodziak(.6)-Storitini(0.5) Is a cheap #4 Line.
    MoreaU(2.0)-Cogliano(1.15)-Pisani(2.5) Is a physical 50 goal third line.
    3 of our PK guys are on these lines. (not bad for 7.75M)

    Gagner is getting a prove yourself on the first line in the last 30 games. I believe he will slide into that role on the 1A line.
    Penner-Gagner-Hemsky (9.95m) 70-80G

    Does a 1B line of LW Torres (2.25) (18G), Horcoff (3.6) 25G, RW Stoll (2.5) 17G. Does the (8.35M) justify itself.
    This is the decision line.

  19. misfit says:

    “Gagner only makes that much if he earns his bonuses. He won’t this year.”

    That’s true, but it’ll be his cap hit regardless of whether or not he reaches them.

    …at least I think that’s how it works

  20. Bank Shot says:

    If Lowe had any foresight, there could be guys from 05-06 still making peanuts. Pisani for one. Horcoff for another.

    Does anyone think Horcoff would have turned down a long term contract for 2 million bucks going into 05-06?

    Now here we are in 07-08 while Gilbert and Pitkanen keep making their cases, and Lowe sits around waiting to see what happens.

  21. speeds says:

    Gagner’s bonuses count as a cap hit until such point as they are impossible to attain.

    Having said that, every team is allowed to go over the cap with bonuses (up to some limit), so Gagner’s bonuses count against the cap, but since they are allowed to go over the cap by the amount of his bonuses, it’s not much of an issue.

    If he did hit his bonuses, and the total put the oilers over the cap, the overage (bonuses) would be applied to next year’s cap. AFAIK.

  22. Schitzo says:

    bank shot: Come on, at least be realistic about what you can say in hindsight and what the situation was at the time. In 05-06 our top line centre was supposed to be Peca. When they dropped Horc into that spot, nobody seemed to really believe he’d be able to do the job. Why would Lowe have any reason to believe he should lock Horcoff up long term?

  23. HBomb says:

    Why would Lowe have any reason to believe he should lock Horcoff up long term?

    Because a good GM is proactive, that’s why.

    Lowe would have realized what he had in Horcoff (at worst, a second line centre) and that salaries were likely to escalate. Furthermore, it sounds like Peca was set on only playing one year in E-town from the minute he got here.

    Performances like Pisani in 05/06 or Gilbert this year are suprising to the fans, but the GM and his staff should know a little bit better and occasionally roll the dice on locking up a guy long-term earlier than logic would necessarily dictate.

    Do that, and you end up with cases like what Detroit has had with Zetterberg. It’s a big help towards trying to put a winner on the ice.

    We’ll see this summer if he’s learned a thing or two based on what he does with Garon and Horcoff, both UFA in July 2009.

  24. Dennis says:

    Bryan Murray made his intentions known with Redden today, ie asked him to waive his no-trade clause.

    In the process the team that dropped the dime, SJ, came out of a closet that didn’t have any doors on it in the first place.

    Staios for Steve Bernier, anyone?

    That’s a deal Riv and I came up with the other night. We figured you’d put Bernier with 27-89, throw 18 or 34 up with 10-83 and go PVP, put the other guy with Cogs and find them a cheap vet.

    And this gives us the money to bring back Pitkanen.

  25. Dennis says:

    The Rishaugh comedy hour keeps on rolling!!

    For the second day in a row, Bob stats off asking about Souray’s contrac and Rishaugh says you can’t judge he’s contract until he’s healthy and in the lineup.

    Honest to fuck.

  26. heed says:


  27. Gord says:

    You called it perfect rickibear – the other three lines should look exactly like that…

    Does a 1B line of LW Torres (2.25) (18G), Horcoff (3.6) 25G, RW Stoll (2.5) 17G. Does the (8.35M) justify itself.

    This is the decision line.

    It is the 1B line that needs tweaking. Horcoff must stay ; Stoll should stay if he continues to shake off the concussion effects & the price is right. Torres (while a nice guy) has never shown potential to be a 2nd line player – he must be replaced…

    I hope Kevin Pendergast comes back from his overseas trip stating Mikhnov deserves another opportunity. If he does, there is still the speed bump that Guy Flaming posted on the hfboards where he wrote:

    “it would probably take a sell job to convince Lowe and that it’s worth it and then an even bigger sell job to MacTavish that he has to show the same patience with Mikhnov as he had with Penner the first month this year”

    If things fall into place, I see absolutely no need to add a veteran at the trade deadline so long as Moreau & Pisani stay healthy – our kids have another season under their belt and are ready to take the next step…

    And heed – don’t get me started on Hejda – having him on the payroll instead of Souray would have given us cap space to re-sign Pitkanen Gilbert, Grebeshkov plus leave spare cash for emergencies…

  28. heed says:

    i just like to rile up the hedja fans.

  29. Gord says:

    At the start of the season, the Oilers needed veterans desperately. At this point, most of the kids have completed their “trial by fire”.

    NHL games played at end of 2007 / 08 if remaining healthy…

    1124 Sanderson
    729 Moreau (Stanley Cup veteran)
    465 Reasoner
    350 Hemsky (Stanley Cup veteran)
    324 Pisani (Stanley Cup veteran)
    286 Stoll (Stanley Cup veteran)
    183 Penner (Stanley Cup veteran)
    138 Nilsson
    97 Brodziak
    95 Stortini
    82 Cogliano
    79 Gagner
    70 Glencross

    759 Staios (Stanley Cup veteran)
    271 Pitkanen
    151 Greene (Stanley Cup veteran)
    149 Smid
    100 Grebeshkov
    94 Gilbert

    On present injury list (no games added)

    532 Souray
    480 Horcoff
    307 Torres

    Imagine Sanderson & Reasoner are removed from that list over the summer & Horcoff & Torres are put back on. They put Souray back on defense. I believe we have a perfect mix of talented youth & experienced veterans.

    The last thing we should do is trade young talent to rent a veteran – trading to build is a different story…

  30. Gord says:

    Oops – forgot – Torres & Horcoff are also Stanley Cup veterans…

  31. Bruce says:

    the GM and his staff should know a little bit better and occasionally roll the dice on locking up a guy long-term earlier than logic would necessarily dictate.

    Do that, and you end up with cases like what Detroit has had with Zetterberg.

    Or like the Oilers did with Hemsky?

    It’s a big help towards trying to put a winner on the ice.

    Agreed. In fact, no duh. The trick is picking the right guys, and more particularly, avoiding the wrong ones.

    We’ll see this summer if he’s learned a thing or two based on what he does with Garon and Horcoff, both UFA in July 2009.

    Unfortunately both of them are already in primo bargaining positions, having outperformed their salary level already in 2007/08.

    BTW, one thing that I never see mentioned is how injuries turn into a win-win for the players. The guy who is hurt sees his value go up cuz of how the team misses him when he’s out; and the guy who gets his icetime sees his value go up cuz he improves his counting stats with the bigger opportunity.

    Imperfect examples on the Oilers, but if, say, Stoll seizes the moment during Horc’s injury, his price tag will rise, while Horc does no worse than retain his proven value. Or maybe Gagner gets his bonuses as a result.

    And Pitkanen gets Souray’s PP time and his counting numbers take a bump and so does his sticker price; meanwhile Souray’s value, or should I say cost, doesn’t change at all. (What is it, $200,000 per GP? $1.8 MM per goal?) It’s a real lose-lose from the organization’s point of view, and that’s without considering paying the salaries of the injury replacement call-ups at the bottom of the roster.

    In my view this common scenario has been a real driver of salary inflation over the decades.

  32. speeds says:

    I don’t know Bruce.

    If Stoll never suffered his concussion last year, and went on to post 60 pts last year and this year, you don’t think his expected salary for 08/9 would be better than it will be if he ends up with back to back 40 pt seasons?

  33. Jonathan says:

    //I believe we have a perfect mix of talented youth & experienced veterans.//

    That’s this years team you just posted, and we aren’t in contention for anything, although if we really try we might get Anaheim a lottery pick.

    //The last thing we should do is trade young talent to rent a veteran – trading to build is a different story…//

    Trading Pouliot/Jacques for a veteran with a year or two left on his deal hardly qualifies as “trading young talent to rent” because a) we aren’t renting, and b) how much talent do we think we’re dealing with here? This summer, both Pouliot/Jacques will be in their 5th post-draft year. Neither has consistently shown anything, and while I think both will eventually play NHL, what are the odds either ever play above the third line? There is little to no point in developing a Mike Johnson, or a Radek Bonk, because these guys are available every summer, and you don’t have to spend a few seasons watching them surrender back-breaking goals to the opposition.

  34. misfit says:

    Greene was on the roster when we made our run, but I have a hard time accepting him as a “Stanley Cup vetran”.

  35. Bruce says:

    Speeds: Good point. It’s not always win-win from the players’ perspective, depends on the situation for sure. But it’s almost always lose-lose from the organizational point of view. Stoll has “earned” his lower salary expectation for next year by not outperforming his current salary last year and this year, and in fact significantly underperforming. Not his fault necessarily, just a cost of doing business I suppose. But a damned expensive one. I guess it’s no news flash that injuries cost money, but sometimes there’s a real ripple effect as others seize the opportunity, and at contract time the team ultimately pays double jeopardy for the same ice time.

    Misfit: 18 GP, +1

  36. Gord says:

    That’s this years team you just posted, and we aren’t in contention for anything


    At the beginning of this season, we desperately needed veteran help because the NHL experience (from our present line up) was:

    Gagner (0 games)
    Cogliano (0 games)
    Gilbert (12 games)
    Brodziak (16 games)
    Stortini (29 games)
    Grebeshkov (33 games)
    Nilsson (57 games)
    Smid (77 games)

    That is why we are not presently in contention for anything – that plus the fact we started the season without Moreau & Pisani (two veterans who are now back in the line up)…

  37. Dennis says:

    Bruce: I was thinking about that when Souray went out. Both 25-77 looking for new contracts and one of them bound to inherit Souray’s PP time.

    BTW, Gregor had an excellent interview with Buchy posted on the site. Buchy had nothing but love for Pouliot and I’m thusly re-convinced that he’s going to get another shot.

    I doubt the Oilers think opposing MGMT are listening to Gregor’s show so I don’t know why Buchy would so complimentry if for nothing else than complimentry’s sake.

    In other news, and I kid you not, Thor just put up a Gordie Howe hat-trick in his first PERIOD back with the Falcons. He had a goal and an assist and fought some guy named Pete Zingoni!!

    Falcons up 2-0 after the first, Pouliot with a goal and Schremp with two assists. Both markers on the PP.

  38. Ducey says:

    Being a “buyer” doesn’t make sense to me. There are now enough NHL players TM to staff the team and mentor the youngsters. A veteran might improve the team two spots this year and next. Yippee.

    The young guy they give up might turn out to be useful (say Satan, Cleary, Chimera, etc). Why not wait?

    Get rid of Sanderson, and Roloson at the deadline for a draft or two. The decision on Stoll/ Pisani/ Torres is a no brainer for me. Torres must go. As soon as he has established himself again, trade him.

    Why do I say Torres? No PK. No PP despite lots of chances. Therefore he doesn’t help you on special teams. He is not a shutdown checker. He does not carry the puck. He panics with the puck under pressure. He can hit and will go on an occasional hot streak. That’s it. No decision in my mind.

  39. PunjabiOil says:

    BTW, Gregor had an excellent interview with Buchy posted on the site. Buchy had nothing but love for Pouliot and I’m thusly re-convinced that he’s going to get another shot.

    Though you wonder, if he’s taken a step back. Pouliot is being worked as a horse, and despite that, his numbers have taken a bit of a fall. As a 2nd year pro, he went 31 pts in 33 AHL games. This year, he’s 31 pts in 38 games. You’d naturally expect some improvement from a guy like Pouliot.

    He’s kind of a tweener though. I do expect him in the NHL at some capacity – I’d like to see him more than a bottom 6 role, but it doesn’t appear like that will be the case.


  40. sexy says:







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