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 nhlnumbers.com
- 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.