Free Agent Week Post #3: UFA’s

Many years ago I had a boss who used to “blue-sky” things. He’d need an idea for one thing or another and call a bunch of us together for a think session. Plans good and bad would be hatched but nothing ever came of it and eventually the company changed the code on his entry card and we never saw him again.

The thing is, you’re only the captain for so long. Kevin Lowe is secure now, but with new ownership the clock certainly is ticking and his “blue-sky” days won’t go on forever. This past weekend saw very little activity and since the team hasn’t made the playoffs since Britney Spears started wearing underwear there has to be some sense of urgency.

Kevin Lowe has identified skill and toughness up front as his shopping list for the summer. Some of us feel he’s laying in the weeds a little and will add a veteran defender but let’s take things at face value and look around the league for skill forwards.

UFA skill forwards.

Let’s pick 8 possible UFA signings and see how things go:

  1. Marian Hossa: Put him with Hemsky and the dog-faced boys from the Mexican circus can play center and score 40. It would be a dream come true for the Oilers to grab a talent like this off the free agent tree, and it would also mean Lowe imported a player of elite talent to somewhat replace Pronger. This would be the proverbial ‘big fly’ for Kevin Lowe this summer. My guess is they go hard for Hossa and come up short because of the agent (Ritch Winter).
  2. Daymond Langkow: Hell yeah. I keep reading the Flames have signed him or that they have a gentleman’s agreement but until he’s signed Langkow would be at or near the top of the signing list. A top 2C of Lankgow-Horcoff would give this team some exceptional roster maneuverability. My guess is Captain Emoto signs him but he’d be a wonderful Oiler.
  3. Brian Rolston: Those of us who watch NW games with any regularity know this guy could score from the moon. Silly-good hockey player, there’s no way in hell he’s coming to Edmonton but we can dream. Could score 50 with Hemsky.
  4. Teemu Selanne: What a hockey player. 50 goals in his last 108 NHL regular season games, Selanne popped a dozen in 26 games last season. A beauty player who really should have been an Oiler. My guess is he retires or comes back one more time for the Ducks.
  5. Jaromir Jagr: He’d be a great trigger man for Hemsky, although his powerplay goal totals have fallen off in the last two seasons (since the lockout, by season: 24, 7, 7). He’s aged but those powerful legs should keep him in the game at an elite level for another three or four seasons. My guess is the Rangers bring him back for one more try.
  6. Kristian Huselius: Played in ideal circumstances with Calgary but delivered nice results. I don’t know if there’s any clear indication he’s a better bet for the 2line than any of the kids playing the soft parade but this is a player we could see signing with the Oilers.
  7. Michael Ryder: Interesting player. Ryder’s EV goals totals the last three seasons (12, 11, 13) tells us there isn’t a tremendous production dropoff in this area. So it’s the PP and of course the time on ice is a major item in that scenario (goals are 18, 17 and 1 on the PP in the last three seasons and the TOI for each season is 363 minutes, 318 minutes and 148 minutes). A new home address might be just what the doctor ordered and my guess is Edmonton would have a chance if they came calling.
  8. Radim Vrbata: Played in ideal circumstances but delivered too. Vrbata is something of a late bloomer and his established level of ability trails others due to lack of consistency. My guess is he would be available to a team like Edmonton.

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45 Responses to "Free Agent Week Post #3: UFA’s"

  1. dave says:

    The top 4 excite me especially Rolston. But outside of those I’d sit with what we have offensively. One of the kids will get first line duties before the end of the season. I think we have playoff roster standing pat. Injuries might not be an oiler thing as much as a new nhl thing. The depth could come in handy and gives some “rent a player” cap room at the deadline.

  2. andy grabia says:

    Looks like Tucker is now available, too.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Pass on Hossa, sign a much cheaper Jason WIlliams instead.

  4. Lowetide says:

    jonathan: Williams established level of ability isn’t close to elite level. He’s a solid NHL option but if the Oilers are serious about top 3F options Williams isn’t in the conversation.

  5. Knamely Lacked says:

    I’ve been trumpeting Vrbata, solely because the Oilers might have a realistic shot at signing him.

    I see it similar to when Lowe got Sykora, albeit with Vrbata being a lot less established and possibly a little cheaper. He’s fairly young too at 27, I believe and plays both wings.

    Wouldn’t mind Hossa though, but his tab will be too high, and the chances he outperforms his contract are extremely low.

  6. Ducey says:

    A couple of others:

    Naslund – he might still have year or two in a more wide open system. Not likely better than Nilsson.

    Demitra – he has always been a plus player and might fit nicely with his countryman Hemsky. Has been stuck under JL’s conservative thumb and might have decent year or two of 80 pts/yr in him. Would spice up the PP, can skate, and another option in the shootout, I kind of like this option for the Oilers.

    Forsberg – no way he would ever sign with the Oilers, anyway you think Ethan is injury prone…

    Mats Sundin – still can play but…what hell is up with all these old Swedes anyway? Sweden must have Freedom 35.

  7. jon k says:

    Rolston, Jagr, and Ryder are possibilities but probably not much else. I don’t see how we can possibly compete for Hossa’s services since he will demand an average salary close to 9 million, likely for over a 6 year term.

    I would like Rolston but the problem any of these players have is that they won’t outperform their salary by a longshot.

  8. Cam says:

    Markus Naslund

  9. Simon says:

    Demitra and Hemsky are not technically countrymen. Demitra is a Slovak and Hemsky is a Czech.

  10. Jonathan says:

    Williams established level of ability isn’t close to elite level. He’s a solid NHL option but if the Oilers are serious about top 3F options Williams isn’t in the conversation.

    Sorry, but isn’t Williams pretty comparable to both Vrbata and Ryder in terms of talent level?

  11. Lowetide says:

    In 05-06 and in half a season last year Williams looked like he might be a top 6F of some note, but that isn’t his established level of ability. Ryder has scored 30 goals twice in a season and Vrbata seemed to make a massive step forward this season.

    Williams is a guy I’d love to have on the Oilers, but if he’s in the top 6F I don’t know if that’s the skill upgrade Lowe is looking for.

    Perhaps he is, but that isn’t his established level of ability.

  12. Big T says:

    Jonathan;

    Just popped over to your blog for the first time (sorry it took so long) and had a hell of a time reading it. Might want to look into changing the background.

    Williams would definately be the more affordable of the two (Hossa) and probably the better value to but I doubt either outperforms their contract.

    I’d happily overpay for Hossa over Souray though.

    T

  13. Jonathan says:

    In 05-06 and in half a season last year Williams looked like he might be a top 6F of some note, but that isn’t his established level of ability. Ryder has scored 30 goals twice in a season and Vrbata seemed to make a massive step forward this season.

    Fair enough- my problem is that I generally think more in terms of what guys do at even strength over special teams – i.e. Ryder is a beauty on the powerplay, but not that great of a scorer at even strength, averaging only 1.40 PTS/60. I really don’t see Ryder as an upgrade for the second line, but mostly as a specialist on the powerplay.

  14. spOILer says:

    Selanne in an instant. He’d be the mostest perfect fit for Hemmer on the board. The only perfect sniper listed.

    Not going to happen. Neither is the rest. Nor do I want over-priced UFAs who can’t meet their contract.

    Hossa I wouldn’t take on for more than 3 years. This was a contract year and he wasn’t exactly spectacular.

    Huselius’ 8 hits this yaar I think tripled his career output. He got two of them bending over to tie his skate. Velour opposition, needs PP time to post any kind of points, totals amped by Iginla… no way.

    Never seen Rolston play the off wing, but he’s about to get a most unusual payday for someone at his stage of age/career. Pass on the $s, but like what he might bring.

    Jagr is good but over-priced, and again full-time off-wing. Adds a bit of an incomprehensible dimension to the dressing room. I’d think about taking him at the right price, which would be a max of about $6M, but preferably around $5M.

    Vrbata I like but heard/thought he was a lock to return. I’d probably take a flyer on this guy because I don’t think he’ll be too over-priced. Depends how long of a contract he wants.

    And Ryder, well he’s somewhat duplicated offensively by cheaper development in our sys, so what’s the point?

    Trade is a better route from terms of re-balancing the roster and incoming cap hit, but a UFA might actually be easier to attain, yet a cap overpay.

    Tough call.

    BTW, Sundin and Malone don’t beat out Huselius and Ryder? Or just picking arbitrarily?

    Sundin I would take. Even at $7.5M. Selanne would be my first UFA choice, but I wouldn’t be unhappy with Mats.

  15. grease trap says:

    Can someone clear this up for me? I was ranting away to my girlfriend and while waxing rhapsodic over a possible Hossa Hemsky tandem and lamenting the impossible pricetag she asked:

    Why don’t they pay Hossa a bunch of cash for something unrelated to hockey, like 4 million a year to be an advisor or something in the offseason, and 4-5 million for playing?

    Is that super illegal or against some CBA rule I don’t know about?

  16. Bendelson says:

    I would think there will most likely be no UFA signings outside of Glenx perhaps and the defencemen you whisper about LT – Salvador, I hope.

    The top 6 talent we seek will come from the impending 3 for 1 trade… that includes Pitkanen+. Again, I hope.

    Vrbata, Williams, or even Tucker could be a very useful addition once the herd is thinned somewhat significantly, and top talent is added in front of them – but certainly not before.

    We need that big trade or like it or not its status quo, which might be the most likely scenario of all.

  17. Lowetide says:

    I didn’t list Sundin because it was impossible for me to even think abot him playing here. The ultimate longshot.

    If he WERE on the list, I’d have him at #2, btw. But he’s staying in Eastern Canada from all that we read.

  18. Big T says:

    I think I like the idea of Lankow or the like best of all. If you want to make hay in the playoffs you can have a few soft minute players but yoy can’t have an entire soft minute line. Especially in your top six.

    Lankow is pretty much Horcoff’s twin which is a positive in my eye. Both are very smart players. Better hope any signing doesn’t push Horcoff out of affordability.

    T

  19. Big T says:

    One more thing. Thinking of the Jokinen trade do you think that the sheer number of defenseman in FLA makes Bouwmeester available?

    If Joni P becomes a problem negotiation wise does a swap make sense? Is this an upgrade/downgrade?

    T

  20. DBO says:

    Would Tucker even fit in our top 6? Or would he be another older, overpaid (I assume someone gives him $2 mill)3rd or 4th liner. We need a bonefide top 6 player, preferrably top 2 winger who can score, but with the demands of our coach you need one who can play at both ends of the ice and is a solid locker room guy. To me the only UFA option is Hossa. If they want to make a splash, you offer 5 years at $8 million. Yeah it’s overpaying, but he is exactly what we need. You can still do the 3 for 1 trade, with Pitkanen, one of stoll/torres and a prospect or pick. Then like LT has said, you sign a vet dman. it upgrades our team in a few areas, and we have a solid core for the next 4-5 years.

  21. Scott says:

    grease trap:

    It is most definitely illegal. I don’t have the specific section in the CBA, but organizations with a stake in the team can’t pay for any other kinds of services to circumvent the cap.

    For example, if an Oiler was all of a sudden being paid $2M to do Rexall commercials, it would have to show up as his salary on the cap.

  22. GSC says:

    BLUE SKIES FOREVERRRRRRRR!

    If anyone can name the movie, you’ll be the recipient of a beer the next time I’m in town (TBA).

  23. Black Dog says:

    dbo – Tucker at his best would be on the second line and only as a soft minute option – I’d rather Nilsson – and I think he is no longer at his best. Its hard to put into words how completely terrible he was last season. An absolute zero.

    I can see someone with very little depth at F taking a chance (Calgary?) on him. No place for him on the Oilers though.

  24. Oilman says:

    I agree BD….Tucker will land with either the Flames or Tampa. The long shot may be Montreal, as he pretty much provides the same offense as Ryder. And Montreal could use an Asshole on their team.

  25. Steve says:

    Um, what money are we using to sign any of these guys? The possibilities I can think of are Pitkanen’s money or Stoll’s money. Stoll’s money I’d be fine with (seriously, I think I’d be prepared to argue against qualifying him if nobody’s offering a pick or prospect – $2.2M is just too much for a third or fourth liner without good checking skills), but that’s not going to get the higher-end guys. If we don’t re-sign Pitkanen, though, that money has to go to a first pairing defenseman.

  26. grease trap says:

    Thanks Scott!

  27. Coach pb9617 says:

    What about Hagman? Looking at his Desjardins – he was the 14th best ES goal scorer in the league last year playing against middling competition with terrible teammates.

  28. Bruce says:

    I like Hagman, too, as a hockey player and a guy with a historical connection. Like Bobby Nilsson, his dad used to play on a line with Andy and the Moose.

    Does Willy Lindstrom have a kid too?

  29. Master Lok says:

    Any interest in Brendan Morrison?

  30. DBO says:

    for what it’s worth (which is not much) Hockeybuzz hs this about the oil:
    Also reports are that the Oilers are close to dealing Pitkanen for a “significant top 6 forward in the Eastern Conference who is currently an RFA.”

    Obviously big grain of salt, but who would he be talking about? Does Justin Williams count? Who is an RFA out of the East?

  31. DBO says:

    Not many RFA’s in the east.
    Jeff Carter – Flyers
    Kostitsyn – Montreal
    Vermette – ottawa

    No one else i can see that is an RFA. Man Eklund is brutal. I can’t see the Flyers dealing for Pitkanen again. Kostitsyn is not enough for Pitkanen. neither is Vermette. Unless there are more pieces coming. And none of those players are a 3 for 1 helping our log jam problem.

  32. Coach pb9617 says:

    Bernier
    Kobasew
    Kostsitsyn
    Olesz – who I really like
    Ruutu
    Vermette – who I really like

  33. Knamely Lacked says:

    I don’t mind the Hagman idea either, but I think the Vrbata option is more viable, money wise and production wise.

    I believe he had one of those “aww, I get it” years.

    And, gsc is it “All The Right Moves?”

  34. spOILer says:

    Per Ek “rumour”…

    A. Kostitsyn sounds like the only real possibility.

    Now if we could manage to somehow squeeze Komisarek out of that deal (we may have to throw in some cream ‘n sugar), I’d feel a little better about losing Joni.

    Still, who would take the top pairing minutes? Grebs?

  35. Coach pb9617 says:

    I don’t mind the Hagman idea either, but I think the Vrbata option is more viable, money wise and production wise.

    You think Hagman will get the bigger deal?

  36. DBO says:

    Judging by Stauffer’s comments, nothign is happening with this kind of a deal. but if I had to choose one, i think Vermette could work. he’s solid in both ends 9or seems to be based on watching him), he scored 24 last year and is still young. he could defintely play in our top 6, allowing us to move Cogs to the third line. Guess it matters if we also include Torres and get another piece back. It also keeps our salary down, and I wouldn’t be surprised that if they deal Pitkanen that they make a play for redden at $4-5 mill for 4 years. Lowe loves him, and he’s a veteran guy (albeit not as solid as he once was)

  37. doritogrande says:

    threadjack:

    Eberle and Nash are headed to the U-20 selection camp.

    http://www.hockeycanada.ca/5/5/9/4/3/index1.shtml

  38. Bendelson says:

    Vermettte is a excellent choice.
    Great multi-purpose player with upside. No question their BEST player down the stretch, when everything and everybody else was falling apart in Ottawa.

    Not enough for Pitkanen however.
    Add Meszaros and Torres and things get interesting…

    No veteran in the mix, but a nice upgrade I would say.

    Bouwmeester for Pitkanen?
    In a heartbeat.
    If it were only so easy.

  39. Coach pb9617 says:

    think Vermette could work. he’s solid in both ends 9or seems to be based on watching him), he scored 24 last year and is still young. he could defintely play in our top 6, allowing us to move Cogs to the third line.

    I could dig:

    Hagman – Horcoff – Hemsky
    Penner – Gagner – Nilsson
    Torres – Cogliano – Pisani
    Glencross – Brodziak – Stortini

  40. Coach pb9617 says:

    Torres – Cogliano – Pisani

    The immigrant line…

  41. Dennis says:

    I wouldn’t bother picking up Ryder because we don’t need a guy for the PP, but, in the interest of full disclosure, one of his close buddies plays on my league team and Ryder’s staying in Mtl this summer so he can concentrate on his off-ice training.

    Granted, he’s never been out of shaping but maybe all the HS-ing has kicked his ass into a trying-to-improve-his-skating gear.

  42. rickibear says:

    //I could dig:
    Hagman – Horcoff – Hemsky
    Penner – Gagner – Nilsson
    Torres – Cogliano – Pisani
    Glencross – Brodziak – Stortini//

    coach: I like alot of what you write! I put you in with Jonathan, Bruce, Ice dragon, and The KLowe Conspiracy Club (See IOF group). But I would say No to Hagman a 30 Yr old;
    Career 135 shot;
    9% shooting%;
    12G player who had a carreer year in shots and shooting % that should not be maintained.

    Give me a forward set of:

    Penner-Horcoff-hemsky
    Ruutu-Vermette-Gagner
    Nilsson-Cogliano-Pisani
    Glenx-Brodziak-Storitini
    Moreau Reasoner

    Pitkanen-Stoll for Vermette-Mezaros
    Torres for Ruutu.

    These deals are only done if a minimum of 4yr contracts are signed.

    But allas Carolina signed the young RFA.

  43. drpols says:

    I’ve been reading this blog for awhile and for some reason this is the first time that I felt compelled to post. The dog faced boy in the mexican circus is an even greater possibility than most realize, as one of them lives in Edmonton. Seriously, he does, and I don’t mean some stupid internet rumor. He lives in Bonniedoon, has a wife and a kid. I’ve seen them walking, almost hit a telephone pole when I saw him. So be careful as to your predictions, as Lowe just may take you up on that.

  44. Doogie says:

    Now if we could manage to somehow squeeze Komisarek out of that deal (we may have to throw in some cream ‘n sugar), I’d feel a little better about losing Joni.

    Still, who would take the top pairing minutes? Grebs?

    Komi if we got him. But we wouldn’t, and then…Jesus, that looks bad.

    Actually, looking at Desjardins, how the hell do Markov and Komi, ostensibly partners, wind up at opposite ends of the QUALTEAM category but tied for toughest minutes by QUALCOM? And how the hell do their on-off comparisons wind up completely backwards of each other? What am I missing here?

  45. Lowetide says:

    drpols: I laughed until Coke came out my nose. :-)

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