Gilbert Signed, Clears up Nothing

In January, Tom Gilbert turned 25. Although he had not yet played one full season, that number indicated signing him long term was going to cost the Edmonton Oilers extra dollars.

The news today (6 years, $24million) that the Oilers purchased 4 years of free agency makes the dollar amount less difficult to deal with but also tells us a few things about the future. While some Oilers fans were talking about “end of the roster” defenders like Matt Greene and Ladislav Smid heading out of town, it now appears that Joni Pitkanen is gone, gone, gone.

A quick look-see into next season tells us why Pitkanen (and his new number) will be so very difficult to maintain.

Let’s start by listing what we know: all of the players who are clearly roster players and have been signed for next season. The numbers I’m using are cap hit totals from

  • GOAL-Garon 1.1M; Roloson 3.67M
  • LD-Souray 5.4M; Smid .886M
  • RD-Gilbert 4M; Staios 2.7M; Greene 1.15M; Roy .500M
  • C-Horcoff 3.6; Cogliano 1.133M; Brodziak .497M
  • L-Penner 4.25M; Torres 2.25M; Moreau 2M
  • R-Hemsky 4.1M; Pisani 2.5M; Gagner 1.625M

Now that leaves out UFA’s (Sanderson, Reasoner, Glencross), RFA’s (Nilsson, Stoll, Pouliot, Stortini, Jacques up front and Grebeshkov, Pitkanen on D plus the depth goalie Deslauriers) and any left over dollars to sign free agents. That’s 17 players and 41,361,000 spent before the UFA’s, RFA’s and what some of us believe is Job 1 (Horcoff extension) have been handed by the Oilers management group.

The cap number being talked about (last time I checked) was $56.3M with that silly tag that a team can spend several million extra dollars in summer before they Mogilny some poor bastard who had been an NHL player just months before the GM went on a bender.

Before we go any deeper, let me state here and now that I am not the best person to be doing this kind of estimate. It’s a blue sky estimate on my part and it is based on nothing other than observation (Kevin Lowe usually overpays defensemen) and the long held truth that fans like me estimate lower than we should when it comes to salary.


  • Glencross: 3 years, $1.8M/yr.
  • Reasoner: 1 year, $1M/yr


  • Stoll: 1 year, 2.2M/yr
  • Grebeshkov: 3 years, $2M/yr.
  • Pouliot: 3 years, $1M/yr
  • Pitkanen: 1year, $4.4M/yr
  • Nilsson: 3 years, $2M/yr

Now, don’t get your underwear in a knot. I told you this is a guesstimate and welcome input from you, especially the guys like speeds who seem to know this stuff inside out. I’ve listed 24 players because Roy is a bubble man and in my scenario the Oilers have to get Pitkanen in under the cap in order to keep our favourite concussion off the roster.

  • 17MAN ROSTER: $41,361,000
  • 2MAN UFA ROSTER: $2,800,000
  • 5MAN RFA ROSTER: $11,600,000

Remember now, we’re tracking a moving target here and what I’ve done is to try and establish a starting point. Let’s add up the totals:

  • 24MAN ROSTER: $55,761,000
  • PROJECTED CAP: $56,300,000

Taking Roy off the roster, you’re looking at just over half a million clearance and flushing Pitkanen gives Lowe $5M of thereabouts to fiddle with during the summer.

My guess? I’ve estimated high in several areas but it’s still probably not enough to keep Pitkanen and help the roster by bringing in a veteran defender and one more forward with a grey hair or two.

Increasingly, this off-season is coming down to “choose your poison”: stay the course by signing the RFA’s and two current players who are unrestricted, or trade Pitkanen to let some air out of the cap and give Lowe some walking around money to make headlines. Choose carefully. And keep in mind, idling in the driveway the current roster has better balance than 2005 summer, 2006 summer and 2007 summer.

Ideal scenario sees them offload Jarret Stoll for a better plan and get Joni under contract. They need help in other areas but real, “touched by God” talent is dear for a reason. And for crying out loud, sign Horcoff before he becomes the next Ryan Smyth deadline deal.

NOTE: This was written but not posted before the Nilsson signing (reported as a 3yr/5.5M deal) so we can adjust accordingly.

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42 Responses to "Gilbert Signed, Clears up Nothing"

  1. Black Dog says:

    My original response was that Joni was a goner. Probably still is but they can keep him by moving Stoll or Torres or both.

    I think they sign him to a one year deal myself. Opens up their options. If he has a great year then they can sign him with a little more confidence or they can get better return for him. If he has another year like this one – so-so – then, well, then they can make their decision.

    And maybe in a year the Souray contract is a little more movable. Or he will retire. ;)

    I think the Grebs estimate is a good one, LT. The Nilsson contract is a reasonable bet too.

    Glencross a little high.

    All quibbling though – probably overall you’re in the ballpark.

    fwiw Brownlee thinks they move Joni and that Horcoff may get done in the fall. I would prefer they keep the former and get Horc done now.

  2. Black Dog says:

    Oh and he figured Pouliot to be signed and Schremp to get moved as well, btw.

  3. PunjabiOil says:

    I got 55.844M cap hit, if we factor in Reasoner, Glencross, Pouliot, Gilbert, Pitkanen all being signed.

    Of course the Oilers may elect to sign only 2 of the 3 forwards (total 14 forwards), and elect to put Roy in the minors.

    I think Pitkanen can work in the salary structure, but it would probably mean Torres/Moreau is gone. I also think Staios will play 1 more year and then will be traded. If you’re paying that many defenceman the coin, you have to give them the added responsibilities.

    Of course things will start getting tight next year. Horcoff and Garon are UFA’s, and Brodziak, Smid and Greene will be RFA’s. The only noteable salary coming off will be Roloson’s. Perhaps a rising cap will help.

  4. Shawn says:

    Gilbert’s deal seems high to me for a guy who played one season. However, the Oilers clearly believe in this guy and as you say… unlike other young D, this one is old enough that he was close to free agency.

    Nilsson’s deal is a pretty good one in my view. Especially if he takes another step. If he does we’re looking at a bargain.

    As for Joni… one year or two year deal makes the most sense for all parties. Do you really think he wants to sign long term based on this season? I can’t imagine it. Numbers just aren’t good enough.

    I agree with the masses who say dump Stoll or Torres (Torres would be my call) and you can keep Joni. Not that I dislike either of those guys, but they’re overpaid for third and fourth liners.

  5. therealdeal says:

    How stupid is Jacque Martin? Package Torres, Stoll and Pitkanen for Bouwmeester. They get two RFAs and a signed guy, we get 1 RFA, People keep talking about how great Joni is, if we’re not overestimating his ability then Bouwmeester should be accessible as long as the Panthers have the space, which on first glance it appears they do. Maybe you throw something else in there with some value.

  6. Black Dog says:

    Remember that Sykora guy?

    Yeah, he can shoot it.

  7. Lowetide says:

    I still have no idea why they let him go. I know he’s not Cournoyer but that was a player the Oilers could have used.

    Oh well, he won’t cost much as a free agent. :-(

  8. Black Dog says:

    Yeah, top six forward. Soft minutes.

    He landed nicely though. Playing with Malkin. Good gig if you can get it.

    Here is a question. They can fit Joni in. If they move him what do they move him for? Picks and prospects? Again.

    A guy like Komisarek? Is there anybody out there like him who would be available? Because imo that type of guy would round out this D. And would be cheaper then Joni w/o the counting numbers to bump up the contract.

  9. Lowetide says:

    I’d move him for a quality veteran D with less offensive ability. A Jason Smith in 2000 type of player. The Oilers still don’t (imo) have that calm-feet defense MacT is most comfortable sending over the boards.

    Get Dan Hamhuis. :-)

  10. Black Dog says:


    I doubt he’d be available but if the Sens go down and they tear it apart, how about Phillips?

    Redden is going to be gone. They will need a puck mover.

    Dreamer, nothing but a dreamer ….

  11. Scarlett says:

    If the cap is that number, Joni is keepable. But that puts you right up against the cap. So yes, dump either Stoll or Torres (all signs point to Raffi, who was on a friend’s plane to Mexico on Wednesday. Yes he’s enjoying his time off).

    Any chance Roloson is out of here? His $3.6 cap hit would be nice to clear.

  12. Black Dog says:

    Terrific stuff tonight, huh? Sens looked dead and buried and have tied it up.

    Caps the same but then Thoresen goes down blocking a shot on the PK and the Caps pot one. Then Ovechkin scores the winner. And for good measure crushes Richards as Philly tries to tie with the EN.

    And the Rangers are up 2-0 in the third.

    Love the first round but I need three TVS.

  13. Black Dog says:

    scarlett – for all of the talk of keeping Stoll, rumour has them signing Pouliot to a one way deal, multiple years, and keeping Marty as insurance.

    Not sure where Stoll fits in. And with cap room becoming an issue I think they might move him.

    Raffi’s a goner.

  14. Mr DeBakey says:

    A quick thought about the Gilbert deal
    I know there’s been about 1000 already.

    Its been mentioned often how under the current CBA how
    defencemen become useful about the same time they become UFA.

    By the time they’re good to go, they’re ready to go.

    We’re seeing a manifestation of that here

  15. heed says:

    bd…that hit on carter was huge. is there really any other team in the east capable of manhandling the flyers like this? that being said, briere made them the caps look silly all night…just not silly enough.

  16. godot10 says:

    //I doubt he’d be available but if the Sens go down and they tear it apart, how about Phillips?//

    Phillips has a no-movement clause (for which he took a home-town discount), and is married to a (stunningly attractive) Ottawa girl.

  17. Black Dog says:

    Was it Carter?

    Sorry to hijack the thread LT :)

    Caps are the biggest team in the league, no?

    And Rangers win. Delicious irony as Langenbrunner gets called for a pick as the Devils press for the tie. Beautiful.

    Pens win and Crosby is not much of a factor. Hossa too.

  18. Black Dog says:

    godot10 – I think they would be fools to move him anyway, don’t think he is part of the problem.

    Dreaming as I said.

    Who else is out there?

  19. Black Dog says:

    Crosby had four assists.

    Liek I said, not much of a factor. ;)

    The quietest four point game I have ever seen.

  20. Ducey says:

    I like the deal. My quick points:

    1) On the other thread the critics were suggesting the better value was $3.5 million a year. I don’t agree, but really, what’s the big deal about an extra $500K a year??

    2) The consensus on the boards is that Joni is a goner. I think Lowe found out during the season that he was not going to be here longterm. I have it from one of the players that Joni is okay playing here but had no intention of staying here longterm. As has been stated he might get a one year deal but it is unlikely he would sign any of his UFA years away. Can’t blame Lowe for picking Gilbert over Joni in this senario. I think Lowe would love it if someone made an offer sheet for him (so would I).

    3. I think Lowe is fitting Raffi for one of those red security officers uni’s from Star Trek.

    4. Where is the love for Nilson’s deal? Looks good to me.

    5. Question: If the cap goes down, then the players salaries are adjusted downward as well? Is this right?

  21. heed says:

    2 straight posts by the wild. ouch! mcguire is clearly some form of punishment from the heavens.

    it is clear that someone is gone and i am thinking torres for sure. stoll maybe on that same bus. the potential is there for both of them but after this season, i seriously question their attitudes.

  22. Bruce says:

    The stars are out tonight.

    Ovechkin is infuckincredible. He crushed about four different Flyers in the last five minutes, at least two of whom thought they were the hitter until they suddenly and unceremoniously found themselves the hittee. Ovechkin just bounced both guys, Jaroslav Pouzar specials. Alex also took a big hit to make the play at the blueline to clear the puck in the last minute, and his next booming hit (was that Richards?) allowed the Caps to clear the zone one final time. Oh yeah, he also scored the game winning goal, unassisted, by serially dispossessing both Philly defencemen of the puck and roofing one past Biron. All the while willing his team to bigger and better things; how could his teammates give anything less than their all following an example like that? This guy is one of the most complete players I have ever had the pleasure to watch.

    Nice goal by Forsbear.

    As for Crosby, I remember another guy who used to have “quiet” four-assist nights. That subtle little play off the scrambled draw where Crosby found, controlled, and moved the puck in and through a thicket of skates and sticks and to a teammate in a dangerous position reminded me of that same guy. Yeah, that guy.

    Even when we’re out, I love the playoffs.

  23. PunjabiOil says:

    but really, what’s the big deal about an extra $500K a year??

    On a stand alone basis: not much

    On a cumulative effect: Joni Pitkanen

  24. CM says:

    With the emergence of brodziak is it still a sin to mention moving Pisani…especially if we sign glencross and keep marty

  25. Lowetide says:

    CM: I understand your line of reasoning, but to me Pisani’s a guy you keep. Horcoff, Hemsky, Pisani and I’d keep Raffi from the veteran pile, and Penner is useful. Plus of course the kids who are keepers would be Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson, Brodziak and I’d be tempted to add Glencross as a guy you keep.

    That’s 10 and then Stortini and Reasoner are hanging about and did I forget Moreau?

    Pouliot is there too.

    You know, I like this team. :-)

  26. GSC says:

    Move Torres, his time as an Oiler is over. He’s the kind of project that other teams would still take a chance on, however.

    Roloson’s contract isn’t going to attract any suitors well until the deadline of next year. He isn’t going anywhere. Besides, Craig wants to keep playing goaltending carousel with the likes of him and Garon.

    The Oiler brass has said they like Stoll and want to give him more time. Probably a reasonable move, he’s solid on draws and if he can regain his old form he’ll have the masses saying “we did we want to trade him?” Re-signing him shouldn’t cost much at all, in fact the Oilers should take him to arbitration. Give him another year, see if he can get back to his old self.

    Pitkanen needs to be kept around, losing him would be a similar feeling to what Pat Thoresen is going through right now…ok, maybe not that bad, but still Joni has a track record of success and we saw glimpses of just how good he can be. Hopefully the sides can come to terms and he’ll be kept around for a long time to come.

    That leaves the likes of Raffi to be left open for trade.

  27. godot10 says:

    “random” musings:

    Ryan Miller is an unrestricted free agent after next season. If Buffalo can’t extend him this summer, is he not in play?

    Roberto Luongo is an unrestricted free agent the year after that, which means Luongo may be in play as early as next summer.

  28. YKOil says:

    We are fine if:

    a) Pitkanen is moved and Torres is kept

    b) Torres is moved and Pitkanen is kept

    I like the idea of sending Pitkanen to Carolina for Cole and a draft pick. I can also live with the idea of trading Torres to the Rangers for Dawes and a pick.

  29. Jonathan says:

    There’s been a lot of talk about the salary implications of the Gilbert signing, but not a lot on whether it would be a good idea to keep Gilbert over Pitkanen. I really don’t think it is, and I believe that the statistics back me up:

    Especially given that Pitkanen is having a low water-mark season historically, this could be a decision that really comes back to bother Lowe. (Again this is all based on the assumption that Lowe has decided to deal Pitkanen)

  30. Slipper says:

    I think the pick in a Torres-Dawes deal would be headed the Rangers direction.

  31. Muller says:

    Lowetide it’s funny that you said get Dan Hamhuis. I know for a fact Danny wants outta Nashville. I work with his Dad, Same company different towns. He was saying a week ago Danny wasn’t having fun in Nashville and would like to go somewhere closer to home.

  32. Slipper says:

    Just to elaborate, I think the Rangers are pretty high on Dawes at this point in time.

    First on the Rags in +/-.

    Second only to Avery in ESP/60.

    4th or 5th best Rangers forward at GAA/60 (1.74).

    His personal goals per sixty (0.92) is nearly twice that of Penner’s (0.56) and Torres’ (0.54).

    Plus, he’s an RFA.

    The Oilers may need to deal out some contracts for picks and players off the big club’s payroll. Then look to sew up the depth chart with some cheap veteran free agents who can play the role of lambs at slughter for a million or less.

  33. YKOil says:

    Of course slip – but his counting numbers are low and more than one smart GM has done some pretty stupid things in their time.

  34. Slipper says:

    Well, I think you’re bang on in looking for players with high underlying even strength numbers. Ecspecially those who don’t get much PP time.

    It just seems more realistic to trade up in experience and age. Like a Cory Stillman, atleast before the injuries.

    Seduce a GM with “youth” and “potential” and perhaps they’ll make an oversight of reliable evens strength difference makers.

  35. jon k says:

    Hamhuis would be a great pickup. Probably my favorite of the young Nashville D.

  36. Pat H says:

    Good post LT. I completely concur on the Horcoff issue,though I also would not be opposed to trading him this summer, if the return were sufficient (obviously). But waiting is the worst possible option. Do something before september.

  37. Lowetide says:

    This always sounds like an excuse and rip me if you will, but it seems to me we’ve heard from enough sources (and have the Philly history) to read between the lines and come to the conclusion that Pitkanen is going to be very difficult to sign.

    I’m still waiting for speeds to chime in on the Gilbert contract. Buying free agency seasons is expensive, which is why a Seabrook comp is perhaps not the best one in this scenario.

  38. DBO says:

    Just a thought after someone posted get Hamhuis. What would it take? With new ownership in nashville, a playoff appearance, and the need to sign both Dan Ellis and Shea Weber (who will get at least $4 mill with the Gilbert signing)do they shed salary or bring in players? Would they do a Pitkanen and Torres for a Sullivan and Hamhuis. Sullivan is an injury risk, but you can’t get Hamhuis without taking something back for Torres. saves us a few million, and they get a young banger who can score.

  39. tcho says:

    I strongly disagree with the sentiment to move Pitkanen. Shortcomings (d zone coverage, questions about intensity/playing with injury, soft physically) aside, I’m an absolute sucker for talent and… man! What an incredibly rare, impressive and valuable skill set this guy has. When Joni’s flying out there (which he was before he struggled with injury down the stretch), you can just see the other team scrambling, fear in their eyes, as their playbook pages get thrown in the garbage. When’s the last time we had someone with the ability to do this to another team? Coffey? (Oh, yeah, that’s right. A lot of Edmontonians hated Coffey. They’d rather have a team populated by Jason Smiths…)

    Also, let’s not forget his youth and when dmen truly ripen in this league. There should be a lot of improvement yet from Mr. Pitkanen.

    Lastly, down the stretch Pitkanen sure seemed (to me) to be getting the hard minutes (along with Staios). There’s a big difference facing down the Hemskys, Iginlas and Sedins of the league, vs. the Yelles, Sakics (whooops! I meant “Reasoners”), and Keslers.

  40. godot10 says:

    At the end of the season, Gilbert and Grebeshkov were the first option against Iginla’s line, and the first option against the Sedin’s.

  41. Lowetide says:

    tcho: I don’t think there are many fans who want Pitkanen moved but with Souray’s contract and now Gilbert’s the Oilers have spent a tremendous amount on that blueline.

    Pitkanen’s value isn’t an issue imo, but his contract is and I bet he gets moved or signed to a 1-year deal and then gets dealt at the deadline or in mid-season.

  42. IceDragoon says:

    Good day,

    I’m late. I’m late… for a very important date.

    But, I have to jump in here with this.

    The only input Lowe had in the Gilbert negotiations, was to congratulate his ‘Director of Hockey Administration & Legal Affairs’ on a job well done.

    I listened to another excellent Jason Gregor interview last night, this time with Tom Gilbert’s agent, Justin Duberman. He says this was four months of negotiating solely with a very prepared Rick Olczyk.

    Interview should be there for the weekend.


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