Kevin Lowe Evaluation

For those of us old enough to remember the years when Stanley was a regular visitor to our town, this image is a wonderful trip down memory lane.

For those who don’t remember the 5 years when the Oilers won the whole damn thing, it’s probably a little galling to follow a team whose glory years are a distant bell.

Kevin Lowe parlayed those seasons into a career as an NHL executive and has been the Oilers GM for since the turn of the century.

Evaluating General Managers isn’t an easy thing to do, after all there are several levels of success that can be measured but Stanley is the only one that really counts to fans.

We’re in a transition period for the Oilers and their fans, with the “you’re lucky to even have a team” Glen Sather years having given way to “let’s get through to the new CBA” and then “hey, Katz has money” and now we can see a time when fretting over the Oilers moving to Houston or Walla Walla are no longer annual story opportunities for the likes of Al Strachan and writers of his level (I still don’t know how he’s been forgiven for that statement about the New Jersey Devils employee).

A few years ago I did a “Kevin Lowe in a Box” post at Hockey’s Future. Basically it’s a review of his career in the front office through a variety of questions and hopefully we come out the other end with a reasonable conclusion. Complete theft from Bill James, and the idea here is to take bias and emotion out of the equation and put the facts on the table. You should know I enter this little exercise as a pro-Lowe fan who can certainly see there have been massive errors during his tenure.

  1. In 8 full years, how many trades has Lowe made? 44. From 2000 summer through 2004 lockout, he made 26, or 6.5 per year. From summer 2005 through spring 2008 he made 18, which is 6 a year but we have this year’s draft to go. Six transactions a year seems like a lot of turnover, but many of these deals affected picks, UFA’s and other assets that didn’t immediately impact the roster.
  2. How many deals involved draft picks? 33/44, or 75%. This might not be completely accurate, as the Oilers acquired Blake Evans on December 13, 2005 for “future considerations” and I’ve never been able to find out if it was cash, etc.
  3. How many were financial deals? Before the lockout, the Doug Weight, Bill Guerin and Roman Hamrlik deals had that look. Since the lockout, you could say Smyth being traded was about money but I don’t believe it.
  4. When does he deal? 19/44, or 43% before, during or shortly after the draft. 14/44, or 32% at the deadline. 5/44 at training camp, 2/44 in November (the Guerin/Carter blockbuster and then they dumped Semenov in ’05), 3/44 in December (guys who were struggling, Kilger, Josh Green plus the Blake Evans deal), 1/44 in January (minor deal involving Rory Fitzpatrick). 75% of his deals happen around the draft or at the deadline, which follows a logical path.
  5. Has he made any flat out steals? For a couple of years, the Poti/York deal was cited as being a steal, now not so much. Based on how it worked out, the Niinimaa/Torres deal was a steal but Janne was hurt and couldn’t deliver the goods. Since the lockout, the Pronger/Brewer deal would have to be considered a franchise altering trade.
  6. Was he schooled on any deals? The Pronger trade. Lowe dialed back the median age for his roster with the trade and got only one immediately useful part in return. Add to that the fact Lupul was ineffective in all areas and that Lowe didn’t do enough to fill the gap on the blueline and it effectively collapsed the Stanley team. Before the lockout, Weight/Hecht and Parise/Pouliot deals are often mentioned.
  7. How many of the 44 trades were beneficial? 18. Carter/Guerin; York/Poti; Grier for picks; Dvorak/Carter; Niinimaa/Torres; Nedved/Helminen; Gilbert/Salo; Pronger/Brewer; York/Peca; Tarnstrom/Cross; Spacek/Salmelainen; Roloson/1st-3rd; Samsanov/Reasoner; Hedja/7th; MAB/Grebeshkov; Smyth/Nilsson; Pitkanen/Lupul; Glencross/Tarnstrom. 4 of those trades happened at the ’06 deadline, which would have to be considered Lowe’s high water mark as a GM.
  8. How many of the 44 trades were negative? 7. Weight/Hecht; Dopita/picks; Niinimaki/Higgins; Parise/Pouliot; Woywitka/Comrie; Chimera/picks; Pronger/Lupul. Far fewer, but the Pronger deal was a massive error, one that will probably go down as one of the 10 or so worst trades in the history of the game. It was that bad.
  9. How many of the trades were neutral? 19. These are deals like Semenov/7th; Zholtok/Kilger, those kinds of deals.
  10. How many big contracts? Before the lockout, Lowe gave big money to several players, including Doug Weight (1yr/4.3), Tommy Salo (3yrs/mondo), Mike Comrie (3yrs/close to 9 million), Janne Niinimaa (3yrs/8.5), Eric Brewer (2 yrs/4), Ryan Smyth (2yrs/7), Mike York (3yr/5.6). All of those pale in comparison to the Pronger, Roloson, Hemsky, Penner, Souray deals. The Edmonton Oilers spend much closer to the cap and far more (in comparison to the rest of the NHL teams) than they did before the lockout. The Souray deal is in another league altogether.
  11. How many contracts blew up? The Roloson deal proved to be too long for too little, but let’s face it several of those guys who had big Stanley runs were overpaid. Roloson, Pisani, you know the list. Collectively they’ve blown up in that the Oilers (seemingly) have more overpaid role players than anyone in the league. The real problem though is the Souray deal, which is a Denver boot on every move this team will make for the next couple of seasons and possibly beyond. I’ll mention the Dustin Penner deal here, although we have a ways to go before making the call on the contract.
  12. How many contracts were exceptional value? The Pronger deal, the Hemsky deal, the Horcoff deal, the Staios deal. The Oilers do some nice mid-level deals and the Hemsky contract is terrific value.
  13. How many NHL free agents did he sign? These are free agents who weren’t traded for first, which means names like Roloson aren’t included. The first player mentioned in this category is Steve Staios, who has had a really nice career in Edmonton after coming over from Atlanta. Adam Oates was also signed, and Igor Ulanov too, all before the lockout. Since then, Lowe has had more success on the free agent front, from minor players like Todd Harvey to big ticket items like Dustin Penner, Sheldon Souray, Petr Sykora. He’s also signed some useful defenders in that time, like Daniel Tjarnqvist and Dick Tarnstrom. His signing of Mathieu Garon was a fine move and offsets some of the impact of the huge dollar deals.
  14. How many minor league free agents/college kids/undrafted juniors has he had luck with? Scott Ferguson, Dominec Pittis, Ty Conklin, MA Bergeron, Mike Bishai and Steven Valiquette were all brought in and at least played for the Oilers before the lockout. Two of these players (Conklin, Bergeron) played significant roles on the hockey team. After the lockout, the Oilers had good fortune with Patrick Thoresen and a player to watch this fall is Bryan Lerg, who was acquired in an “under the radar” manner ala Bergeron.
  15. How have things gone at the draft? We’re now at a point where we’re giving credit to Lowe for things others in the organization are responsible for but it’s worth mentioning he put them in place and gave them authority to make the picks. Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano represent an improved record in the first round, and Jarret Stoll, Kyle Brodziak, Matt Greene and Zack Stortini prove the procurement department can uncover gems outside the first round. I’d give the Oilers a solid 80% rating at the draft table with Kevin Lowe as GM. They’ve been good. Honest.
  16. What are his strengths? Kevin Lowe delivered on his promise to make it to the 2004 CBA with a young, inexpensive team that was ready to succeed. He stripped it down to the core, and dealt off most of his high skill guys, but no one on the roster made close to 5 million. A couple of summer deals for Pronger and Peca, add to that several excellent decisions at the deadline and the Oilers came within a hair of a Stanley. He’s also a very impressive “face” of the organization, a player whose connection to the glory years gives fans a sense of comfort even when the club is routinely missing the playoffs. He was hired when the team was in “survival” mode and continues to be a champion in those areas of procurement (small trades, under the radar free agent signings, the draft).
  17. What are his weaknesses? He has a few. First, Loyalty. Rumors have Buchberger and Simpson coming back to the mother ship this summer and that falls in with previous management decisions. It’s ridiculous to argue that all of these men are the best possible candidates for the job. I’m not saying Charlie Huddy isn’t good at his job, or Craig MacTavish or even Kelly Buchberger. However, fresh ideas come from fresh minds and these men have spent years together dating back to early manhood. Second, Contracts. His contracts have always been a worry and this summer’s promise could easily be erased with another rash move. Third, Pride Goeth Before a Fall. Kevin Lowe has been in reaction mode since the Pronger trade, seemingly eager to regain his previous reputation. His Penner Souray contracts have had a major impact on the hockey club and the future. His “is it me?” interview in the Edmonton Journal gave us a glimpse into his mindset and his priorities and he has been scrambling ever since. He had a beauty summer starting last season when signing Garon and dealing for Pitkanen, but the Penner and Souray contracts diminished those moves and more.
  18. Anything else? Yes. It’s very important that we put to bed the “Ryan Smyth $100,000 difference” idea. If you look at the events that followed the Stanley run and put them in proper order everything becomes clear. Let’s say that at the trade deadline in 2006 or thereabouts Ryan Smyth went into Kevin Lowe’s office and said “hey Kevin, I’d like a new contract.” After the season ended, with Pronger’s trade request about to become public, with the draft coming up and with many big money decisions to make, the Edmonton Oilers did the following:
  • June 28: Declined the $1.9M option on Ty Conklin’s contract.
  • June 30: Declined the option on Todd Harvey’s contract.
  • June 30: Signed Fernando Pisani to a 4yr/$10M contract.
  • July 1: Signed Dwayne Roloson to a 3yr/$11M contract.
  • July 3: Traded Chris Pronger for Joffrey Lupul and others.
  • July 4: Signed UFA Marty Reasoner to a 2yr/$1.9M contract.
  • July 6: Signed UFA Daniel Tjarnqvist to a 1yr/$1.625M contract.
  • July 10: Oilers trade 7th rd pick to Buffalo for Jan Hejda.
  • July 12: Signed Shawn Horcoff to a 3yr/$10.8M contract.
  • July 20: Signed Craig MacTavish to a 4yr extension.
  • July 21: Signed Tom Gilbert to a 2yr contract.
  • July 22: Signed Jarret Stoll to a 2yr/$4.4M contract.
  • July 25: Signed Ales Hemsky to a 6yr/$24.6M contract.
  • August 11: Signed Petr Sykora to a 1yr/$2.9M contract.

The Edmonton Oilers made their decision on Ryan Smyth long before they traded him, and Smyth himself must have known it wasn’t going to happen. Somewhere between Fernando Pisani’s contract and Shawn Horcoff’s contract logic dictates the Oilers would have signed Ryan Smyth if they felt he was part of the future.

They didn’t. It’s the same this summer with regard to Shawn Horcoff. The Sheldon Souray and Dustin Penner deals are going to look even more ghastly should Edmonton sign Jarret Stoll and allow Shawn Horcoff to come to camp as an impending UFA.

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52 Responses to "Kevin Lowe Evaluation"

  1. Par says:

    How many NHL free agents did he sign?

    Garon?

  2. Lowetide says:

    par: I had him in minor league signings, thanks for the head’s up. It’s fixed.

  3. doritogrande says:

    Sorry for the threadjack, but I found a great website with statistics for the IIHF tourney.

    http://www.iihf.com/channels/iihf-world-championship/statistics.html

    The Russian had two assists, +3 in just over 14 minutes of ice time. All the other Oiler defensemen were pointless.

  4. GM Clarke says:

    Wow… what great research for this article!!! Congratulations and thanks for laying it all out. I have a few opinions and thoughts. Kevin Lowe has not progressed as a General Manager as many of us hoped he would. In a nutshell, it is very obvious he has no long term plan for the organization… he makes kneejerk decisions, ie. Souray and Penner were signings that were very shortsighted and selfish. He was covering his own ass after the Pronger-Smyth one two punch to Oiler fans guts. He has us in the top 4 or 5 payrolls for a team that, other than one run a couple years ago, is always in the bottom 10 of the league. While I have a lot of admiration and respect for people like Cal Nichols et al, this should never have happened. Dave Nonis for one example is far superior to anything Lowe will EVER do and he got canned, arguably, for different reasons.
    I just don’t think he has the grey matter for this job. Take a look at other GM’s in the league. I would rank him 26 or 27 in the league. This organization could have just about anybody come here… this is a plum job in the NHL and yet for some reason we keep him. He’s had enough time to prove himself and while this team is on the verge of going to the next level, we will NEVER, repeat NEVER, get there with him at the helm!!

  5. godot10 says:

    //He has us in the top 4 or 5 payrolls for a team that, other than one run a couple years ago, is always in the bottom 10 of the league//

    This is most definitely NOT true. Since the league went to 30 teams, the Oilers have the 11th best record in the league, maybe 12th after this years results.

    http://mirtle.blogspot.com/2007/11/30-team-era.html

    Kevin Lowe is an above average GM.

  6. Guy Flaming says:

    Blake Evans, so I’m told, was actually the finally piece of the Pronger trade from STL.

  7. David says:

    I’m actually okay with the Pronger trade so far. It has to be evaluated as a trade that was forced upon him, so the value you would expect had to be lowered in the first place.

    It gave them Smid, Pitkanen (they had to give up Smith, but the way he’s playing, he was traded at the right time) Nash (though they had to burn their second round pick to get him) and a first this year. Who knows what happens with Pitkanen, but regardless, it’s an acceptable number of assets given the circumstances. Not a horrible trade by any means.

  8. David says:

    Besides, if you’re talking about awful Oilers trades, it’s the Parise/Pouliot one. Did that every blow up in their faces. Would have been interesting what would have happened if Nilsson was still on the board, and they picked him instead of trading down. Man, would that have changed a few things down the line, eh?

  9. Sean says:

    Overall I’m ok with his job as GM, he made most of his good moves in one year but I’d take that playoff run over any series of 2nd round exits. Bringing Doug Armstrong would still be a positive move.

    I think we could soon put Gilbert in the steal category.

    The Pronger trade worst 10 ever? Right now I agree. Unless Piktanen, Smid or Nash turns into a real player the end result was nada. At least Peter Puck got to pad his pockets when 99 left. 11 was worse btw.

    I think KLo should hold his cards closer to his chest with regards to the media and offseason promises. Its great for us but promising 8 moves and being forced to deliver made him reactionary and is going to hurt the teams chance to capitalize on excellent drafting and value contracts. If he just came out and said “we’re gonna try our damn best to improve our team this summer”, I think he be better off.

  10. Lowetide says:

    Sean: Agreed on Gilbert and Messier points.

    I think the irony of Lowe’s career is that his one shining sesaon came from:

    1. The groundwork laid from survival mode 00-04 and
    2. The Pronger trade and
    3. The deadline deals

    but the backbone of the run and the hope for the future was (as is almost always the case) the amateur procurement department.

    Ales Hemsky’s make you wealthy because you draft them and keep them for a long stretch before they’re UFA eligible. The Oilers are going to have to pay Sam Gagner but that’s a helluva lot less problematic than finding Sam Gagner in the draft.

  11. HBomb says:

    it’s an acceptable number of assets given the circumstances

    Number of assets doens’t matter.

    Quality assets are.

    Yes, we got Pitkanen indirectly from swapping Lupul (which I think was the right move), but the fact is that Lowe got quantity, not quality, when he sent Pronger to Anaheim.

    Bob Stauffer can harp on the guy not being available all he wants, but Kevin Lowe should have flat out insisted that Pronger was not going to be a Duck unless Getzlaf was coming the other way.

    And if that meant two assets instead of five, well, I think everyone here would take such a trade-off.

  12. Jonathan says:

    Dave Nonis for one example is far superior to anything Lowe will EVER do and he got canned, arguably, for different reasons.

    Dave Nonis has a track record as an extremely cautious GM, one who did minor tinkering to the base left to him by Burke with the exception of the blockbuster Luongo deal.

    As much as I think Lowe has his faults, the 2005-06 season was definitely his high-water mark. He made a beuatiful trade to acquire Pronger, another good one to get Peca, risked draft picks to get Roloson (a widely criticized move, btw), and added complementary pieces in Spacek and Tarnstrom.

    Nonis has never had a season like that, and as much as Lowe has had teams that were unbalanced, at least the unbalance shifted around as he addressed things. With the Canucks, you always knew they were going to be shallow up front.

    Take a look at other GM’s in the league. I would rank him 26 or 27 in the league.

    Behind Waddell? Martin? Pleau? Feaster? And that’s just off the top of my head. Lowe ain’t perfect, but he hasn’t, for example, signed anyone to a 12-year contract, or gone 4 consecutive seasons without a legitimate starting goaltender. We just have a much better view of his foibles.

    And finally, awesome post LT. Just a great job recapping Lowe’s tenure.

  13. HBomb says:

    Anyone who has Lowe in the 25-30 range in GM rankings needs to grow a brain. Seriously.

    He’s far from perfect, but he’s not awful.

    10-20 range is where I have him, and it fluccuates year to year when it comes to these sorts of rankings. Wildly.

    If THN (irrelevant as it is nowadays) does the GM survey in April or May 2006, Lowe’s probably top five, prior to Brophy and the rest of the Pro-Pronger MSM circle-jerk decided to go on their little “smear Edmonton” campaign.

  14. Dennis says:

    There’s not much point trying to debate a guy that has his mind made up and that’s where I stand with Lowe and Lowetide.

    Note: I will make exceptions occasionally:)

    The being said, just to throw a couple of things out:

    - it’s now reached the point where Lowe gets credit for hiring scouts that have upped our drafting record AND he gets some of the blame taken away from him for summer of ’07 because MacT had some say in those decisions.

    Fuck, how can this guy lose?

    - Finally, it’s not enough to say this trade was “won” or this one was “lost”; all decisions aren’t created equally. Some of losses losses have been a lot more staggering then his wins have been uplifting.

    Then again, maybe that’s just me. I’m an Oilers fan and I don’t live in the city and I’ve ever attended a pancake breakfast and I don’t care to understand how that impacts believing in Smid and Lupul.

    It’s like apples and oranges but the only fruits I can see is one long playoff run and then three others years being out of the playoffs.

  15. Jonathan says:

    Finally, it’s not enough to say this trade was “won” or this one was “lost”; all decisions aren’t created equally. Some of losses losses have been a lot more staggering then his wins have been uplifting.

    And vice versa- the Pronger trade in was more uplifting than the Pronger trade out was staggering. Removing the middle man, we get this:

    Brewer, Woywitka, Lynch for Lupul, Smid, 3 1st round picks.

    It’s a good deal, looked at through that light.

    My most damning assessment of Lowe would be that I alluded to in my comment above, and one that LT has mentioned repeatedly- every year we seem to be out of balance. It’s a different out of balance, but it’s still unbalanced. Plus his inability to address obvious needs at any time before the trade deadline.

    That said, he’s also far-and-away not the worst GM out there, though that says more about the competition than Lowe’s performance.

  16. GM Clarke says:

    hbomb… grow a brain??? Think about it… the Pronger trade fell into his lap!! Lowe was the only GM Pleau called… Pleau admitted that!! It was a salary dump because the team was for sale and they were trying to make the bottom line look better. The St. Louis fans went nuts saying he could have swung a better deal elsewhere, in fact, several other GM’s were pissed they didn’t have a chance at Pronger.
    That being said I stand by my claim… go down the list of GM’s and see who has done less with more. It’s a joke… look at what he’s accomplished in his tenure. The numbers don’t lie. If his name was Kevin Lipschitz he would have had his ass kicked out of there long ago!!

  17. HBomb says:

    hbomb… grow a brain??? Think about it… the Pronger trade fell into his lap!! Lowe was the only GM Pleau called… Pleau admitted that!! It was a salary dump because the team was for sale and they were trying to make the bottom line look better. The St. Louis fans went nuts saying he could have swung a better deal elsewhere, in fact, several other GM’s were pissed they didn’t have a chance at Pronger.
    That being said I stand by my claim… go down the list of GM’s and see who has done less with more. It’s a joke… look at what he’s accomplished in his tenure. The numbers don’t lie. If his name was Kevin Lipschitz he would have had his ass kicked out of there long ago!!

    Yes, grow a brain. Clearly you didn’t read Lowetide’s body of work.

    The guy has done enough to prove he’s not a bottom 10 GM in this league. He’s in the middle tier.

    Less with more? Tell me how many GM’s out there have a Stanley Cup finals appearance on their resume? That counts for a lot. We can dump on him all we want for the bad stuff, but we have to give him credit for knowing what he had in the middle of the 05-06 season and making four smart deals to “load up” and allow the deal to go deep.

    But he’s far from perfect, as I clearly stated. The Pronger deal to Anaheim was shit. If we’re going to crucify him for that, we have to give him credit for the deal that bought Pronger in the place. There was some degree of “luck” involved in both deals (St. Louis dumping salary being good luck, and Pronger’s wife being a snooty bitch being bad luck), so neither deal is to the extreme one way or another (the good isn’t as good as it looks, and vice versa) – the credit AND the criticism have to be tempered.

    But bottom five in the league? Pardon my language, but give me a fuckin’ break.

  18. HBomb says:

    Brewer, Woywitka, Lynch for Lupul, Smid, 3 1st round picks.

    It’s a good deal, looked at through that light.

    First off, 3 first rounders? By my counts it’s two first rounders and one second rounder, but that’s splitting hairs.

    Second, I don’t know if it looks that good. Pronger’s trade value in July 2006 was a lot higher than that of August 2005, and when you look at the in/out assets in the way you have, Brewer is far and away the best player on either side of the ledger.

    On the other hand, you have to include the 2006 run on the “return” side of the ledger. It’s hard to look at a deal in this way, because a lot changed in the 11 months between the two separate trades. The initial deal to bring Pronger here was highly opportunistic and a a great risk.

    However, the return for a guy coming off a great playoff signed at what is, by relative comparison, a huge bargain for four more years? It’s simply not good enough. Getzlaf HAD to be part of the return, and he wasn’t. Even if it meant taking a veteran d-man with a year left to UFA instead of Smid (i.e. Vishnevski) and accepting those two as the return for Pronger (forgetting ANY sort of draft picks) – don’t you think the Oilers come out further ahead?

    Pronger’s entry and exit really are the two extremes of Lowe’s performace as GM – but, as I said above, we have to temper both anger and enthusiasm. External factors like the Blues dumping salary, the EIG not wanting to take on salary, potential influence regarding bringing in “home town boy” and “one shot scorer” Lupul from the EIG, and the Pronger trade demand itself (Lowe would NOT have dealt 44 if not for the initial request on the basis of “family issues”, as we well know) mean the good isn’t as good as we think, nor is the bad as bad as we think.

    Wow, that one was long, rambling post – I need a beer. Or six.

  19. rickibear says:

    //Has he made any flat out steals?//
    How many true idiots are there in the GM position in the NHL. I still believe Kennans luongo trade was a fuck you to the Florida orginization.

    //Was he schooled on any deals? The Pronger trade.//
    What a crock of SHIT! We have not even used up all our assets in the deal (#22 2008).

    You have two choices in a trade A)NHL ready assets or B)young bodies/draft picks. He choose 5 of B). When you do that you hope these assets have value. Plus you are putting picks in the hands of a group that is currently generating a great Dollar vs. Production return.

    Lupul was packaged to get a first pairing offensive Dman.

    Smid is still here though questionable.

    #30 was packaged with #36 to get R. Nash. We know what everyone is saying about him. My favorite “not since Neiwendyk”

    //one that will probably go down as one of the 10 or so worst trades in the history of the game//

    Did you watch the leafs in the 70′s and 80′s. NYI i the 90′s. Harry Sinden for 30 YR’s.

    //The Souray deal is in another league alltogether.//
    This was done as an EIG PR move. The none oiler fans I talk to just laugh at the people who think otherwise.

    //How many contracts blew up?… …let’s face it several of those guys who had big Stanley runs were overpaid. Roloson, Pisani, you know the list//

    You reward the core and hope it is the base for further advancement. Of those I would hope Rolloson and Pisani stay. How many of you would have bitched if he did not sign Roloson, Pisani, Stoll. Torres and Moreau have to get in the Stoll range.

    //What are his weaknesses? He has a few. First, Loyalty.//

    Its only a weakness if you hold onto the likes of Stoll and Torres when other assets can be had.

    Though I have not heard too many players saying I do not like him as a GM he is too loyal.

    //Second, Contracts.//

    “Ricky Olczyk is extremely prepared,” said Gilbert’s agent Justin Duberman.

    //Penner and Souray contracts diminished those moves and more.//

    I don’t know how many times I Said to myself. Klowe you idiot you signed: A)our leading goal scorer in Penner B)a Dman who is the best Penalty killing dman in the league, with one of the 5 best PP point shots in the league, decent EV GA/60, and MacT thinks he is a great cycle breaker.

    Sourays hit does force thought in regards current assets. So does torres, Stoll and Moreau.

    //Yes. It’s very important that we put to bed the “Ryan Smyth $100,000difference” idea.//

    You deal with athletes and identify when they are starting to break down and dump them. Klowe’s and MacT’s decision proves that.

    Hockey is a business. Smyth’s non contract and Souray’s EIG contract’s are all the evidence I need.

    The future moves that need to be made by this team should be driven By the need to prevent goals on Defence. The signing of contracts that roll off in two yeras and three years that will allow the resigning of: cogliano, gagner, and Nilsson.

    PS: Started writing this 1:30 Mountain time. About to see if anyone said the same thing.

  20. Schitzo says:

    hbomb:

    //It’s simply not good enough. Getzlaf HAD to be part of the return, and he wasn’t.//

    And if Burke tells you to get fucked, Getzlaf is not on the table, what then?

  21. Bruce says:

    However, the return for a guy coming off a great playoff signed at what is, by relative comparison, a huge bargain for four more years? It’s simply not good enough.

    Was it not Lowe who signed Pronger to the “huge bargain” contract? There’s three or even four pieces to this puzzle, all of which came down in less than a year:

    1) Trade for Pronger
    2) Sign Pronger
    3) Make the playoff run
    4) Trade away Pronger

    It was the signing that made it possible to trade him. Without it he would have walked the way Michael Peca walked, without so much as a glance in the rearview, and with nothing in return. But because he was signed to that good contract it was possible to at least get something back for him, not enough but not nothing either.
    ***

    Also, since I haven’t seen it mentioned elsewhere … our worst fears were realized when Pronger went to Anaheim and won the Cup that just eluded him in Edmonton. He had a terrific year and a terrific playoff, give or take a couple of suspensions. But … in 2007-08 he had a mighty ordinary year, well below his standards. His 43 points were his worst in a decade (discounting 2002-03 when he played just 5 GP). Same for his 31 assists, and his points-per-game rate fell below 0.6 for the first time since 1997-98. His penalty minute totals jumped through the roof, and he took that silly and stupid eight-game suspension which embarrassed both him and the Ducks. He was a minus player in both the regular season and the playoffs (just -1 in both cases, but hardly the big plus player we’ve come to expect). He was a non-factor as the Ducks went down to defeat meekly in an opening-round series.

    So sure Oilers gave up four years of a very fine defenceman, but so far that’s been one very good year and one very so-so year. Maybe he bounces back and maybe he doesn’t (I’m guessing he does), but as we critically examine the value of the assets that we got in return, let’s all bear in mind the asset the Oilers lost in this deal is not exactly perfect either.

  22. Dennis says:

    1: all first round picks aren’t equal ; it’s not like we were gonna get top 5 picks from ana.

    2: I defended the Penner move and when he’s not totally overweight and lazy, there’s things he can do that other’s can’t. BUT, this whole “leading goalscorer” thing has to be tempered by how many min the guy received.

  23. Dennis says:

    Also, I’m not a huge fan of the EIG – I think they were operating way cheaper than they really had to – but I don’t think you can on one hand slag them off for demanding Lowe sign Souray while not acknowledging that it was their cheapness that allowed Lowe the leverage to deal for Pronger in the first place.

    And Peca too for that matter.

  24. HBomb says:

    schitzo: If Burke says “no”, you hang up the phone and wait. Take a hard line stance with it, and if you don’t get an offer from Anaheim (or someone else) that you like, you tell Pronger “you signed a contract with us – you either play for us or you sit”. People can say all they want about it being bad PR for attracting players in the future, but Lowe would have been well within his rights to take a hard-line stance.

    Bruce: I see what you’re saying, but I think it’s pretty much a fact the Pronger trade wouldn’t have gone down unless he had agreed to an extension in advance. Is this a fair statement on my part? I think so.

  25. Bruce says:

    I dunno, HBomb, I can’t remember what exactly was said at the time about whether the trade was contingent on the contract, I just recall he signed pretty much right away. But in a way it’s a moot point: if the contract was all wrapped up as part of the trade, that made it an even better trade. Instead of just one year of Pronger’s services — a la Peca — it gave us five years, OR a highly-tradeable commodity. I don’t think it was Lowe’s choice that it turned out to be Door #2.

    Sure I would rather have got a Getzlaf or a Bouwmeester for him, and I do think we lost the (second) trade, but some of the “assets” we did get will be helping the Oilers long after Pronger’s contract has expired. (Ever the optimist, I’m desperately trying to see that glass as at least a third full.)

    BTW, with Montreal’s ouster tonight, the conditional draft pick that was the last piece of the Pronger puzzle has been upgraded to at least #23, and potentially still could be as high as #21 if both the Sharks and the Penguins were to lose their current series. Rickibear’s projection of #22 seems a likely outcome.

  26. GSC says:

    I don’t understand the concept of trying to rationalize a trade with the ol’ “well, we then traded him for this guy and he’s turned out to be pretty good…” It’s an entirely separate trade and it’s irrelevant, in my book.

    Such logic suggests that the Pronger trade to Anaheim supposedly involved Pitkanen because he came over a year later. In my view, you look at a trade on its face and you go by what has transpired since the trade in terms of the players involved (producing? gone? not sure yet?) You do NOT base an analysis on players acquired by way of the original players involved, such as Lupul for Pitkanen somehow becoming Pronger for Pitkanen. That wasn’t the return.

    So, what do we have from the Pronger trade? Joffrey Lupul, gone. Ladislav Smid, jury’s out. 1st Round 2007, Riley Nash. 1st and 2nd Round 2008, back to Anaheim in the Penner RFA signing. So, what did the Oilers get out of this? Two prospects, a forward who was gonzo after one season, and a knee-jerk RFA signing that cost not only 2 good picks but an inflated salary.

    Of the 5 “assets” acquired in the deal, 3 are now gone with 2 of them (1st and 2nd round 2008 picks) back in Anaheim’s hands. His return was crap. Lupul was poor enough to the point where he had to be dealt, and the picks went right back to Burkie when Kevin decided that he needed to sign a free agent THAT bad. Lowe got schooled, there’s no two ways about it. Since that trade, he’s been reactionary in his decisions and has, as LT put it, tried to redeem himself and save his reputation.

  27. Asiaoil says:

    Two years later and people are still obsessing about this trade……gotta move on people. I’m old enough to remember that the 2nd Pronger deal is nowhere near the worst trade this org has made…not even in the top 3.

    You would also think Pronger was an Oiler for half his career – the guy was around barely a year – and to ignore the trade that got him here seems more than a little one-sided. Lowe cut a much better than average deal from St Louis – somewhat worse than average deal with Anaheim 12 months later on the same asset. Overall he came out ahead even if he could have gotten more from big mouth in the second deal. The deals are close enough in time and focus on the same guy that you really can say it was:

    Brewer, Woywitka and Lynch for Lupul, Smid and three #1 picks.

    If you consider Brewer and Woywitka for Lupul and Smid basically an equal trade – then Lowe turned a guy who will never play in the NHL (Lynch) into 3 first round picks within 12 months. Sure Lowe got boned on the 2nd trade – but he still got a year of FCP and much more in return only 12 months later. I’m no Lowe fanboy – but crucifying him for FCP deal #2 without praising him for FCP deal #1 is taking a very biased perspective on this.

  28. Black Dog says:

    Great measured and balanced evaluation, LT. Good picture of Lowe, warts and all.

    I think he is a decent GM. 2005/2006 was the year everything he touched turned into gold. Since then he has made some decisions that have turned out, some that have we have to wait on and some that were terrible. With Philadephia in the conference final a year after being last place overall I’m in no mood to discuss why a SCF HAD to be ripped apart in order to rebuild but hey. that’s just me, I guess.

    I also think its amazing to what lengths some people will go to to defend him. According to some he can do no wrong. Amazing that nobody rehashed the old “He’s won six Cups” argument yet although I am sure that is coming.

  29. Pat H says:

    brilliant post LT. Informative and balanced.

  30. Schitzo says:

    hbomb:

    I guess that’s where our opinions differ – if you can’t land the Getzlaf or the Kopitar, you can either sit on Pronger or move him for the best package actually available.

    Obviously Lowe went for (what he percieved to be) the best package available, instead of standing pat. We can debate that move forever, but if he wasn’t willing to play in Edmonton, I’m not sure how a suspended, hasn’t played in 50 games Pronger is worth more at the deadline than nearly-conn-smythe Pronger is worth in July.

  31. hideko66 says:

    With the way Schremp is playing it looks like Brewer Comrie and Lynch for Pitkanen Smid and Nash hardly stellar. Considering he passed on Perry may be it was Brewer Perry and Lynch it looks even worse.
    Passing on Parise Richards, Perry and Getzlaf for Pouliot was ugly but it was Prendergast’s fault.
    Sending his first line winger Carter out for nothing in the middle of a playoff run was also unconsionable

  32. Jonathan says:

    I don’t understand the concept of trying to rationalize a trade with the ol’ “well, we then traded him for this guy and he’s turned out to be pretty good…” It’s an entirely separate trade and it’s irrelevant, in my book.

    One paragraph later:

    So, what do we have from the Pronger trade? Joffrey Lupul, gone. Ladislav Smid, jury’s out. 1st Round 2007, Riley Nash. 1st and 2nd Round 2008, back to Anaheim in the Penner RFA signing. So, what did the Oilers get out of this? Two prospects, a forward who was gonzo after one season, and a knee-jerk RFA signing that cost not only 2 good picks but an inflated salary.

    So that principle of not bunching trades together doesn’t apply to RFA signings or what?

    And as for the 2008 picks, Anaheim got Edmonton’s picks, not their own back. Edmonton’s picks are, as we know, more valuable.

  33. GSC says:

    jonathan,

    I realized I made the very error that I’m criticizing when I posted that, I was thinking along the lines of what the Oilers did with the picks…Guess it is difficult to look at a trade purely at face value, but I figured why not take a stab at it and see who agrees/disagrees with the principle?

    It should read as follows:

    LUPUL: gone
    SMID: prospect
    2007 1ST ROUND: prospect (Nash)
    2008 1ST/2ND ROUND: gone

    While I can’t disagree at all that the deal was for assets, there is no guarantee that said assets will be used in a certain way (RFA sheets, future trade, draft selection, etc.) It’s looking at the deal purely for what it was at the time, and the aftermath in absolute terms (which I seldom do, I’m a prospective lawyer who knows all about operating gray areas).

  34. Lowetide says:

    I think we’ve really moved beyond being able to look at the Pronger trade rationally (as a group). Although it always invites a solid hammering from Dennis, I think it might be worth noting that some of us thought Lupul was a quality player and would improve based on age and previous level of ability.

    The folks who hated the trade at the time have done an outstanding job of shedding light on Lupul’s weaknesses and his horrible season in Edmonton made him a leper in terms of defending him (believe me, I know).

    However, when we discuss these things it’s important to remember things like draft place (Lupul was selected 7th overall in 2000) and draft day scouting reports.

    Here’s notorious hard marker Redline report:

    Joffrey Lupul is right up there with (Rick) Nash as the top pure snipers in the lottery. His 56 goals easily outdistanced the field among all prospects, and he can score in a variety of ways. Lupul plays well in traffic areas and manages to find open ice. But he needs to gain strength and become more consistent.

    Lupul went to the NHL and scored 13 goals as as 20-year old rookie. Next season is the lockout and he pops 30 in the AHL.

    Season after that is 05-06 and he scores 28 NHL goals as a 22-year old. That’s the season the Oilers dealt for him and he certainly seemed to be a scorer of some repute.

    This season, away from EDM and in Philadelphia, he scored 1.94EV/60 against pretty good competition (Desjardins has him as the #2 RW in terms of tough minutes behind Knuble) and playing with good (but not the best) linemates.

    If we agree that Lupul’s roster spot went to Robert Nilsson (and I think that’s fair) then we can take heart in that he delivered 2.37EV/60 against the 3rd toughest minutes for RW’s (#1, Hemsky, #2 Pisani) and the second best linemates.

    So Nilsson got better results (2.37 to 1.94 is a gap) with about the same quality of linemates and against slightly easier opposition.

    Is that fair? I think it probably is.

    So Lupul’s moved on down the line and at this time would be seen as a reasonable offensive 2line winger when placed in the right role.

    He sure as hell isn’t worth 50% of Pronger (or whatever) and he certainly isn’t covering #7 in his draft year but it’s also true that the 28 goal season implied value.

    Fire away. :-)

  35. rickibear says:

    //So, what do we have from the Pronger trade? Joffrey Lupul, gone. Ladislav Smid, jury’s out. 1st Round 2007, Riley Nash. 1st and 2nd Round 2008, back to Anaheim in the Penner RFA signing.//

    The penner signing has nothing to do with the pronger trade. It was our picks used to get him. Anyone whom tries to use him as any part of the pronger trade is nuts. Penner was signed to replace Smyths goals: and when you look at that it was done for 1.25M less.
    2007-08:
    Ryan Smyth: 55GP 14G 37A
    Penner: 82GP 23G 24A

    Smyth is probably on the decline and Penner’s numbers should rise.
    30 goal seasons should not be unexpected.

    5 years from now is when you can access this trade.

  36. GSC says:

    The penner signing has nothing to do with the pronger trade. It was our picks used to get him. Anyone whom tries to use him as any part of the pronger trade is nuts.

    rickibear,

    Correct on all counts and I apologize for the error, that was obviously not my intention at all to loop any future players into the trade. That’s exactly what I’m NOT trying to do, to look at the trade in a absolute sense…Otherwise, things tend to sort of even-out in the end so what’s the fun in that?

  37. Jonathan says:

    It should read as follows:

    LUPUL: gone
    SMID: prospect
    2007 1ST ROUND: prospect (Nash)
    2008 1ST/2ND ROUND: gone

    Actually, we still have those two 2008 picks- the picks that went to Anaheim for Penner were the Oilers’ 1st, 2nd and 3rd, and thus the deals were completely disconnected.

    As to who we trade these guys for, I think it matters because the exit value of a player is still value. Pegging Lupul as just “gone” gives him no value as a trading piece, which isn’t the case since he was the primary player used to acquire Pitkanen. Saying Pitkanen=Lupul is inaccurate, since Sanderson certainly doesn’t equal Jason Smith.

    Similarly, that ’07 1st rounder isn’t Nash, since we also dealt the 36th pick to take a crack at Nash.

    All of that said, it sure would be nice to be able to boil down a trade to its individual components, but I’m not sure it’s practical.

    In the interests of full disclosure, since I wasn’t blogging or a particularly active commenter at the time (though I certainly read this site) I didn’t mind Lupul as a return for Pronger. I overestimated Lupul’s value, which was a mistake, even if I wasn’t alone. I just didn’t like the trade because I felt that the Oilers absolutely needed a young-to-in his prime defenceman as a return on Pronger. I assumed that Lowe would acquire one prior to the start of the season in a seperate trade, and unfortunately that never happened. That weakness on defence that wasn’t addressed until 2007-08 was the primary failing of the 2006-07 team, IMO.

  38. rickibear says:

    Johnathan: you articulate your thought far better than any I have read. What is refreshing is you are a true liberal thinker. Not in a political sense. Most political people are polarized and refused to look at a situation in the dynamic sense and are unwilling to change there view.

    Some people display an elightened thought process to the dynamics of this game and some are unwilling to adjust there polar thought.

    Your thoughts entertain and cause us to think.

    I sure wish I could write (articulate) to your level.

  39. HBomb says:

    hbomb:

    I guess that’s where our opinions differ – if you can’t land the Getzlaf or the Kopitar, you can either sit on Pronger or move him for the best package actually available.

    Obviously Lowe went for (what he percieved to be) the best package available, instead of standing pat. We can debate that move forever, but if he wasn’t willing to play in Edmonton, I’m not sure how a suspended, hasn’t played in 50 games Pronger is worth more at the deadline than nearly-conn-smythe Pronger is worth in July.

    Yeah, my opinion is a bit more hardline than others, I’d be the first to admit that, and I can see where you’re coming from.

    That being said, what little Lupul and Smid did give the Oilers last year could have been easily replaced (by playing Hejda from minute one and perhaps giving more time to some prospects in the soft minutes 2nd line role) – if I was Oilers GM, I’d have Yashin’d Pronger. Let him sit the entire season if need be. But do not trade him until you can either get a young forward like a Getzlaf or Kopitar or a defenseman like Boumeester.

    Maybe such a thing would have been realistic if Lowe hadn’t insisted on draft picks in addition to 2 young players. I’d have gladly taken, for example, Getzlaf plus Vishnevski going into his UFA season instead of Lupul, Smid and 3 turns at the roulette wheel otherwise known as the NHL draft.

  40. Dennis says:

    LT: I’m not gonna fire away on you for that post; I’m just saying you look at the overall picture and we’ve missed the playoffs in two of the three years post lockouts and there are still some questions to be answered.

    I think this is a matter where an outside audit is really needed, ie smart fans who aren’t fans of the Oilers and who don’t live in or didn’t grow up in the city.

  41. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: That’s fair. How many NW teams have:

    1. made the playoffs more often and
    2. made the finals since the lockout.

    That would be a nice starting point imo.

  42. Bruce says:

    As to who we trade these guys for, I think it matters because the exit value of a player is still value. … All of that said, it sure would be nice to be able to boil down a trade to its individual components, but I’m not sure it’s practical.

    Well said, Jonathan. It is instructive to follow the individual threads of a given trade but all too often they get lost in the complex weave that is management of the entire roster. But if you’re going to not consider the return for Lupul as part of the Pronger deal, then you should consider what Lupul himself produced this year, even if he did it for another team. Evaluate the original trade for what it was.

    It’s inarguable that Lupul is a better player than what he showed here (the bum). He put together a pretty decent year in Philly and contributed to the turnaround from last overall to conference finalist. Superficially his counting numbers alone were better than Pronger (more goals, points, better plus depite fewer GP). Obviously that’s an unfair comparison, “scoring winger” to “stud defenceman”, but it does suggest that the trade at face value was a little closer than it initially appeared. As I attempted to point out above, to score this trade after just one season, when Lupul sucked and Pronger won the Stanley Cup, doesn’t tell the whole story either.

    Actually, we still have those two 2008 picks- the picks that went to Anaheim for Penner were the Oilers’ 1st, 2nd and 3rd, and thus the deals were completely disconnected.

    Actually, we don’t have the 2008 2nd rounder, it was traded to NYI to get Allan Rourke and more importantly, our third rounder which was initially traded to get Grebeshkov and which we needed back in order to make a bid on Penner. Ultimately the trade was Bergeron and that Anaheim 2nd rounder for Grebeshkov and Rourke. If you really want to stretch it, that pick helped us get both Grebeshkov and Penner. I’m not going to die on that hill, I’m just sayin’ “asset management” is a complex issue for us sideline critics to properly evaluate.

  43. therealdeal says:

    LT: Another excellent post. The ‘Anything Else’ column is a very good point that is rarely brought up.

    The one additional criticism I would have of Lowe is that he doesn’t appear to ever have a cohesive plan. I guess you summed it up when you described him as ‘reactionary’ but in my opinion that’s almost complimentary.

    It’s like one move looks like it’s for the very short term, the next is for the very long term, and the next is for the in-between.

    I mean, it can all work if the moves are somehow related to one specific plan, but it all just seems like Lowe is grasping at straws or grabbing duct tape and patching the holes as they come (or inventing holes where they don’t exist).

    I would say you have a very even handed assesment in general though.

  44. Dennis says:

    LT: You’ve already stacked the deck by trying to sneak in the Finals appearance so obviously that’s not gonna work.

  45. Oilman says:

    Why doesn’t that work?

    Why can you say 2 of 3 years out of playoffs, but not 1 of 3 years Stanley Cup Finalist? The good goes with the bad right?

  46. Master Lok says:

    If you’re ranking the Pronger trade as one of the 10 worst NHL trades ever Lowetide, I’d have to say – that you’re really forgetting a lot of bad trades.

    Firstly, as rickibear mentioned – how can you judge this when the Oilers haven’t picked the ANA pick this year yet? Believe it or not, 1st round draft picks do have value – it’s up to your scouting team to make sure the picks are worthwhile.

    Secondly, the reason why people mention Piktanen as part of the Pronger trade is because it determines Lupul’s value.

    Yes GSC, Lupul is gone after one season, but there’s a big difference from Lupul gone for one season (returning Pitkanen) and Winchester/Peterson gone (returning nothing).

  47. Dennis says:

    Oilman: I could say more, I could say three out of the last four, one appearance past the first round in his entire tenure.

    Lain drinks the kool aid when he attends the pancake breakfasts so he’s the wrong guy for this treatment;)

  48. Bruce says:

    How many NW teams have:

    1. made the playoffs more often and
    2. made the finals since the lockout.

    Made playoffs 2005-08:

    Calgary 3
    Colorado 2
    Minnesota 2
    Vancouver 1
    Edmonton 1

    Playoff series won 2005-08:

    Edmonton 3
    Colorado 2
    Vancouver 1
    Minnesota 0
    Calgary 0

    So Oilers score 4 “points” for playoff appearances plus won series, all in that 2005-06 season. Colorado also has 4, Calgary 3, Minnesota and Vancouver 2 each.

    The operative question is “what have you done for me lately?” If you choose to draw the “lately” line at the lockout as LT has done, it does cast Lowe and the Oilers in the best possible light. It is however a reasonable definition of “recent history”, and in that span the Oilers have done OK.

  49. Oilman says:

    dennis – I would think pre lockout and post lockout are tough to compare no?

    Perhaps the best scenario for Lowe would be to be given a $40million budget for 3 years and then let him spend freely in the 4th – he seems a better budget GM than Cap GM.

  50. DeeDee says:

    Taking a slightly different look at things:

    Lowes Post Season Record
    2000 1st Round
    2001 Did not qualify
    2002 1st Round
    2003 Did not qualify
    2004 Lockout
    2005 4th Round
    2006 Did not qualify
    2007 Did not qualify

    Under Lowe we have missed the playoffs 4 out of 7 years and made it past the first round, how many times?

    Once.

    Granted the single run was a good one, I will give him credit for that.

    Years 6 and 7 of the Lowe era and we are still missing the playoffs.

    Repeatedly.

    In a row.

    Has there been any sign of a master plan, a grand rebuilding of this once proud organization?

    Or is everything being held together with duct tape and chicken wire in the hopes that the wheels don’t fall off?

    What I do know is that in the early 90′s I could watch a crappy Oiler team lose by buying a $12 nose bleed seat and then moving down into the golds in a half empty arena.

    Now it costs $150.

  51. Dennis says:

    Deedee: There’s no point in posting common sense numbers like those:)

  52. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: You need to start your own blog. Seriously.

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