He has areas of need on the big club, will have to cull the herd in a few areas before the fall and with that comes the opportunity to shore up the procurement department with one or more added picks in the top 100.
As Kevin Lowe enters the summer, he has one first round draft pick (probably #26), a couple of UFA’s who might be signed (Glencross, Reasoner) and a plethora of RFA’s who will be looking for raises.
Here’s how I see the summer going:
- Signing Shawn Horcoff. I think it’s job 1 for Lowe this summer. A team that has Horcoff-Cogliano ++ down the middle can be strong for years no matter who plays the other 2 center positions. Losing Horcoff means the Oilers don’t have a strong #1C to protect the kids. Huge signing, and don’t give me “well they can wait until the deadline” because that’s what everyone said about Ryan Smyth. Make no mistake, the decision on Horcoff is going to be made this summer. If Lowe doesn’t sign him, he’s gone.
- Signing Joni Pitkanen. I know he makes mistakes and he’s a chaos defender and they cost you all the time AND at the worst possible time. However, the guy makes things happen and on a team that spends long periods looking like they’ll never score ever again that’s pretty damn important. Sign the man.
- Sign Grebeshkov and Gilbert. These two (along with Joni and Staios) should be doing a lot of the really hard work over the next few seasons. If Lowe can get them under contract at a reasonable number it makes the Souray contract a little easier to handle.
- Signing Nilsson to a three-year, cap-friendly deal. This guy’s value could rocket if he scored 55 points next season so they need to sign him to a fair price and keep rolling him out there in situations where he can have success.
- Signing Curtis Glencross. Everyone (including me) seems to assume he’ll be back no matter what, but unless his agent is an idiot Glencross will be shopped hard, especially in the NW division where he seemed to have a major impact in every game. Getting him signed is a pretty big deal if they are thinking about:
- Trading Raffi Torres. The Oilers on LW are pretty deep (Penner, Gagner, Glencross, Moreau, Jacques, Reddox) without Torres and he certainly has enough value to bring back a veteran defender, a big enforcer on the wing or a draft pick well within the top 100. He could bring 2 of those things in return (enforcer, pick) or a quality NHL defender whose contract is maybe a little too dear. Should they choose to move Gagner back to center there is room for Raffi and if they do then it probably means they’ll look at:
- Trading Jarret Stoll. MacT’s comments seem to indicate Stoll is staying and it does make sense based on who they’ll need to do the heavy lifting. Should they trade Stoll I think they payback would have to be a little richer than the Torres exchange, perhaps that veteran defender and a pick in the top 100.
- Signing Marty Reasoner. I have no problem with them signing Reasoner, the concern comes over the role he’ll play. Should the Oilers sign Horcoff, keep Stoll, use Cogliano at 3line and use Reasoner as Pouliot insurance that’s a nice plan. I am certain that won’t be the plan and the role for Reasoner (he was 11 minutes at EVs and 3 minutes on the PK per game) this season was the same playing time as Stoll at EVs. Plus he played against pretty tough competition and struggled in that role. Horcoff staying healthy will help but it might be a better plan to give Pouliot a full season or make a deal that improves the position immediately.
- Trading Dwayne Roloson. He has one year left at a large number, but the Oilers might be able to send him away for that veteran D some of us are hoping they add to force the youth to hold back their water.
- Trading Ethan Moreau. It’s probably the wise move. Moreau hasn’t been healthy for much of the last 2 seasons and he’s not 25 anymore. He has three years left on his contract at $1.75M.
- Trading Marc Pouliot. I think he’s probably earned enough fame to be considered a possiblility for a draft day trade. My guess is that the Oilers might get a pick 50-75 in exhange and he’s probably more valuable than that so here’s hoping they keep him.
- Cull the herd. The Oilers need to get some draft picks and reduce the number of bona fide NHLers who are knocking on the door. Schremp, Jacques and certainly Pouliot would qualify up front in this regard, and if Peckham or Chorney come quickly then Greene or Smid may also qualify.