Finding Talent Others have Overlooked

This is Whitey Herzog. I’ve been thinking about him quite a bit lately, mostly because he had such an incredible impact on a middling team 30 years ago.

The late 1970′s St. Louis Cardinals were a pretty good club (better than the Oilers) but they hadn’t won anything in over a decade when Dorrel Norman Elvert arrived. The Cards won the ’67 pennant and WS and then the ’68 pennant before becoming a team that contended but could not win.

What did Whitey do? Well he took over the Cardinals in mid-season (he was the team’s 3rd manager in 1980) and guided them to a 38-35 record before doing something so unusual it’s still remembered by fans who lived through the era.

Herzog gave the manager’s job to old hand Red Schoendienst (who had managed the club for many years previous, including the pennants and WS above) and went on a minor league tour looking for players. On August 26, 1980 Whitey Herzog went walk-about through America’s heartland finding gems in the St. Louis system and others and during the winter and beyond he brought them to St. Louis. Some took a year to acquire (Willie McGee came over in a trade with the Yankees winter 1981) but they were mostly jackrabbits and pitchers who could throw strikes and damned if Whitey didn’t win three pennants in the 1980′s (along with the 1982 WS).

I like Steve Tambellini. He appears intelligent, measures his words before speaking, has taken his time putting his stamp on the team. The addition of Patrick O’Sullivan at the deadline, the hiring of the Quinn-Renney tandem for coaching, the vision to believe his own good luck and not over-think the Magnum PS selection. The acquisition of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin at a very dear price (both amount and term) is one I’m willing to give him, what with the need to make a grumpy coach happy being one of his daily tasks.

I’m even willing to understand his thinking in the Dany Heatley trade. Get the guy, that’s a Whitey Herzog bullet point if there ever was one and Dorrel went the extra mile with his cleanup hitters too (certainly Jack Clark, although Keith Hernandez and John Mayberry wouldn’t agree). I also believe Herzog would have decided on which young center (Gagner-Cogliano) to keep, looked to find a role at another position for the lesser and then sent him out for value if that idea didn’t work as a solution.

I don’t really believe all this “anti-Edmonton” talk that’s going around, to me it’s just piling on and navel-gazing. I’m okay with waiting on Heatley because Tambellini’s an intelligent man and he must think this guy will give his go-ahead and some point or he wouldn’t be going in this direction.

The only real issue I have with Steve Tambellini is that he needs to establish control in this organization, the way Herzog did one day in late August of 1980. He needs address needs and use cap room to do it, but it’s way more than that in today’s NHL. A major priority is to find the gems, they are out there (the Caps traded a kid named Sami Lepisto just the other day and he’s a hidden gem I’d bet) and the Oilers need to get some of it. Drafting isn’t enough, any fool can see that just by looking at the number of undrafted players making an impact at the NHL level. The Oilers need to make some bets on college free agents, and not the shallow end of the pool either.

In watching the draft a week ago I felt the Oilers were continuing a recent run of smart (if not top drawer) decisions that at least delayed the “draft for need” picks until the third round. I don’t think they got max value on the goalie but would be willing to forget it (and the Heatley trade too) if the Oilers looked like a team that was going to aggressively pursue procurement via college free agents, undrafted juniors turning 20 and quality players in Europe. The Oilers can turn this thing around, but only if they use all of the avenues available to them.

I hate the phrase “think outside the box” but in this case it seems fitting. Scott Howson in Columbus, Cliff Fletcher’s kid in Minnesota, these are men who are trying to shake middling and make summer leaps in a winter game.

I wish we had some of that, and maybe we do. It would be nice to see a sign.

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85 Responses to "Finding Talent Others have Overlooked"

  1. spOILer says:

    Wouldn't the number of minor league contracts dumped this off-season be a sign one way or the other? We'd need space in the A to do what you're asking, no LT? And have they created it this summer?

    Was acquiring Potulny and Brule lsat year the beginning of such a process?

    Drafting guys like Omark & Hartikainen & Cornet?

    I think pulling a Whitey can be done, with some degree of success, but I think it's a lot easier in baseball than hockey, even with today's talent depth.

    The guys languishing are usually missing some skill. hehe. Like foot speed.

  2. Lowetide says:

    spOILer: I was hopeful when the Oilers dumped that many contracts and the Minard signing was solid imo. But the second signing (the knuckle-dragger Dman) isn't something I can get behind.

    Most of the good college kids sign earlier than this, but there are some available and there are still lots of graduating juniors worth a look imo.

  3. Asiaoil says:

    Been on the road and missed most of the last 2 weeks – but I'm very happy MPS fell to us since it saves us from listening to the org telling us how hard they tried to move up and how close they came to making something big happen. The Heatley debacle is just more of the same from this Keystone Cops organization. Katz made a mistake by not completely cleaning house this summer which meant getting rid of everyone from the old regime including Lowe and Buchburger. Without a total cleansing the same old stink still hangs over the org and the Heatley fiasco should surprise anyone.

    It's also another summer we chase the big deal while ignoring solid small deals that could help the club more as you outline. Really wish Howeson was here in charge but Tambo seems to be decent so far. I'm OK with paying for experience and stability in net – the moneypuck guys can tout Anderson or Labarberra all they want – just as often you get Conkanen instead of anything decent. Burned once and there's no sense going down that road again. The problem is with other overpays throughout the roster – Moreau, Staios, Pisani, Nilsson, Penner. That fat needs to be cut but I don't see it happening any time soon. Can't say I'm overly optimistic about the direction of the team but we'll see how the rest of the summer shakes out.

  4. Ducey says:

    No disrespect Lowetide, but I find that these ideas permeate the blogs.

    Although it is never stated directly, many out there think they are just smarter than your average GM/scout.

    The way to show you are really smart is to say we should get player X. He is undervalued and will really add to our team. We get 2 or 3 of these undervalued guys and blam! we are in the cup finals.

    Billy Beane is of course the poster child for a GM thinking out of the box. A lot of this has to do with his low budget and necessity. He can't make a run at the big names and has to take shots on guys who are undervalued. When he had Zito, Hudson, and Mulder these decisions seemed to work. Since then not so much.

    Did he do well because he made all these great decisions about hidden gems or because he had three of the best pitchers in baseball?

    My point? In the NHL, the hidden gems are nifty to fill out a roster but if you really want to compete you have to draft really well and/or be able to attract big name free agents. Unfortunately, except for Detroit, the drafting real well part usually results from two or three years of finishing in the bottom 2 or 3 spots of the standings.

    As an aside, is the reason they have not signed Grebs have anything to do with the fact they may trade him? I am thinking maybe his rights are more attractive to another GM who can tailor term etc. Also is there some rule that you can't sign a guy and then trade him right away? Maybe I am thinking baseball.

  5. DBO says:

    LT: I totally agree with the post. Maybe it will always be this way with tambellini, but he plays everything so close to the vest that it is frustrating as a fan who desperately wants an idea of the direction of the team. Anahein became a contender not just on good drafting, but on signing college UFA's and solid early 20's guys who were late in blooming (power forwards being the main ones since they seem to take longer). even if it's our AHL team getting them, but a few 23 and 22 year olds with 4-5 years of college experience would probably settle our farm team down, and from that we may find some gems. I believe Penner was an undrafted college kid who lit it up in the AHL. i know the team feels a sense of urgency to win now, but if you stock the AHL team with solid players who can still get better, then inevitably a few will emerge who help the big club and our team gets better.

    yes you trade for one or two impact players, but your org needs more NHL ready bodies in the minors. look at Detroit. Every year they call up 2 or 3 players near the end of the year who have impacts on their playoff run. Unfortuantely the last few years we had no one from the minors who could have an impact. well, except for the hockey jesus of course.

  6. DBO says:

    And on a totally different note, is anyone watching Wimbledon final? 5th set, 2 tie breakers, all tied at 2. Great match.

  7. Lowetide says:

    Ducey: I haven't read Moneyball, so you have the advantage over me on that one.

    I don't think blog authors believe they're smarter than the GMs but it doesn't take a high level of intelligence to know if a move is a good or a bad bet.

    There is value out there, just as there is every season. Am I implying that I'm smarter than Tambellini when saying Marty Biron is really good value today?

    I'm not asking for some kind of Kaberle-Martin St. Louis miracle, but a two-way deal for Boyd Devereaux (as an example) would seem to be a nice, small bet.

    DBO: Classic. I've felt the entire game Federer would win and yet it's 2-1 final set. Incredible ebb and flow.

  8. DBO says:

    LT: was in the yard earlier so I missed the first 3 sets. May be roddick's day, he seems to just be hanging around, always wins his service games and is just waiting for a mistake from federer (ala the devils). looks like almost a guaranteed playoff to end this match.

  9. Lowetide says:

    I get the feeling Roddick will flag close to the finish line. I've watched in its entirety and the American has wasted so many chances I believe the tennis Gods will punish him.

    Cheering for him, though. He doesn't seem to be as much the ugly American tennis player (or maybe he seems less egomaniacal).

  10. Traktor says:

    Tambellini went chasing and now he's pot committed to a hand that's drawing dead.

    To think there's any reason why Heatley didn't waive his NTC besides not wanting to come to Edmonton is beyond wishful thinking.

    It's one thing to be a mediocre hockey club but a mediocre club with no pride or dignity is what were upon.

    100% agree on the NCAA free agents – they should have been perused regardless if we're big game hunting or not.

    I hate to say it but I wish we had Burke as our GM.

  11. Mr DeBakey says:

    The acquisition of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin at a very dear price (both amount and term) is one I'm willing to give him
    .
    .
    I'm not.
    I was tying to imagine the conversation in the "War Room" when that offer was being put together.
    Closest i can come is
    very Monty Pythonish:
    "Do you think 4 years is too long?'
    "YOU toffee-nosed pervert…"

    The point about finding & having value picks is that they're the cake,
    the Heatley & Prongers the icing.

    The other value source is in the NHL itself – Seidenburg, Tanguay after two "sub-par" seasons and so on.

  12. Traktor says:

    I'm also cheering for Roddick – I'm not a fan of tennis but +650 seemed like good value.

  13. Lowetide says:

    I was hoping for a Harding/Halak solution, but this is Tambellini's first GM job and one imagines history would tell us new hires in the GM post almost always prefer established veteran goalies to those with less of a track record.

  14. DBO says:

    traktor: that kind of talk will get you purged from the oilosphere! What has burke done recently. he dealt for Pronger, who by the way had warts then as well. Known as a dick in the room, injury prone at the time, and demanded a trade through the media all the while clashing with coaches. Is that much different from heatley? Burke didn't draft getzlaf, perry etc.. the only thing he'd done is the pronger trade and the Sedin deal. this year he's bulked up on 3rd and 4th line grinders, and overpaid for a #3 dman (who i like, but at his peak is a bit less then Regher). Lets give tambellini some room to make moves before we dump on him completely. If he makes the heatley deal, moves a dman for some good pieces and signs a 3C like Moore, we'll be talking about how much better our team is come October. especially if heatley is on pace for 50, our PP is clicking and everyone is all smiles. I still have faith.

  15. DanMan says:

    LT, I completely agree with you, but there just aren't that many diamonds in the rough in hockey.

    The ones that kinda stand out for me this year are guys like Andrew Ebbett and Kris Versteeg. Both were older rookies and were brought through the system. It is debateable if they were overlooked by their own organizations, but I'm sure not many outsiders could have predicted the players they turned to be this year.

    One of the things I'm really worried about is teams finding talent that we have overlooked.

    Maybe not overlooked, but guys we haven't developed at all, even for the sole purpose of increasing their asset value.

    Now lets look at Rob Schremp. He was a 25th draft selection in 2004. Was ranked as a top-10 prospect throughout the year ( I remember HN mid-season had him 6 overall incl. goalies and euros). He has a monster junior year in 05-06.

    At this point you have to decide where he fits the team in the near future. Is he a center or left wing? Future 1st line or 2nd? If he doesnt fit in any of these spots, and he clearly never had or will have the makeup to turn into a fiesty bottom 6 winger like Darcy Tucker who lit the lamp in junior, he needs to be traded at this point.

    Doesn't make the team in 06-07 and spends the year in Springfield where he has a fairly banner year for a 20 year old AHLer (I believe 20 is the minumim age in the A). He gets to play 6 minutes in one game for the big club. That is embarassingly bad asset mgt for a team well out of the playoffs for the second half of the year.

    07-08. Two guys named Gagner and Cogliano prove that theyre NHL ready. Even with a decent camp, there's no room for Schremp. At this point surely the GM and coach must get together and see if he really fits here. I dont know how that went down, but we do know MacT was never a Schremp fan from the get-go, and probably never going to be. Springfield, again. He scores 76 points in 78 games for a non-playoff team at 21 years old. Finishes in the top 10 in scoring. That is very good production. Gets in 2 games with the big club but we were fightin for the playoffs so I have no problem with that. Absolute maximum trade value at this point. TRADE HIM NOW, TRADE HIM NOW!!

    No trade.

    08-09. Schremp starts the year in Springfield. The team is an absolute mess. He produces okay in the first part of the year. We call him up. 3 points in his first 3 games. TRADE HIM NOW, TRADE HIM NOW!! He gets benched at the end of the 2nd period for a concussed Sam Gagner and we lose 2-0 with Anderson making 52 easy saves. Schemp is sent back down. And then, after persistent questions about Schremp not being called up when the team couldn't create offense, MacT goes on TSN and bashes Schremp publicly. Now the trade value becomes slim-to-nil.

    This kind of stuff really sickens me. I hope we can find a diamond in the rough one day, I really do, but we can't even manage the assets we have properly!!

  16. Lowetide says:

    I think I can speak for the entire western world in saying Rob Schremp is not a strong option, in a hockey sense, for the NHL.

  17. Lowetide says:

    Calgary's done a real nice job adding small pieces this summer btw.

  18. mc79hockey says:

    LT: If you email me your address, I'll gift you my copy of Moneyball. It's basically the same thing as your post about Herzog, only it's in book form and Michael Lewis is a hell of a writer.

    I'm OK with paying for experience and stability in net – the moneypuck guys can tout Anderson or Labarberra all they want – just as often you get Conkanen instead of anything decent. Burned once and there's no sense going down that road again.

    Nobody ever said that Conkkanen was a risk free proposition. I had a guy on my site comment the other day that he thought I'd oversold LaBarbera. I kind of agreed with him a bit so I went and looked at the numbers – LaBarbera has posted a .905 since the lockout, good for 30th in the NHL. Yep, not great.

    The only problem with that line of thinking is that the fellow behind him just got a 4 year $15MM deal the Oil.

    Goaltending's inherently risky stuff. I'll bet that there were a ton of Hawk fans in 2005 thrilled that their team had paid for experience in stability in net. By the end of 2008, I'll bet that they felt differently. One season shouldn't wipe that away.

    As far as the 05-06 Oilers go, they were a team on a budget. No Conkanen, with the requirement of spending $2MM or $3MM or less but including some talent in a trade and they might not have the depth to go to the Finals.

    Although it is never stated directly, many out there think they are just smarter than your average GM/scout.

    Steve Tambellini has probably forgotten more about hockey than I'll ever know. With that said, in his short tenure, and the older regime's (which is still around) longer one, they've done nothing to indicate that they know any more than I do about assessing the leverage that other parties have and acting accordingly. Tambellini isn't the only who negotiates for a living.

    All of our experience in baseball tells us that, for a long time, the smart section of the fanbase did have a bit of an edge on a lot of teams in terms of that. We also know that a lot of baseball men are very good at telling you how a specific action should be performed but much less good at determining the value of that. I don't see what's wrong in thinking, on the basis of evidence, that the current management of the Edmonton Oilers has similar problems.

    I was hoping for a Harding/Halak solution, but this is Tambellini's first GM job and one imagines history would tell us new hires in the GM post almost always prefer established veteran goalies to those with less of a track record.

    That's not an excuse. He was brought in to make the Edmonton Oilers a better hockey team. I don't know why he should be allowed a certain number of stupid moves, just because he's new. Isn't that why Lowe is there, to mentor him on avoiding those?

  19. DBO says:

    LT: and they were able to shed some salary. Would love to see a Staios go (as much as i like him, that price tag is killer), but I agree with an earlier blog from you in that vets are gong to be given a chance to be here since Quinn needs to be comfortable.

    As for Springfield and the like, would it not make sense to have brule, Peckham, nilsson (if we bury his deal) play in the AHl this year? I'd sooner see us sign Goc and Eminger for inexpensive deals and have them here, and allow our kids to develop another year, whichh allows us to have a better season in Springfield, and gives us more experienced "young" guys at the NHL level.

  20. DanMan says:

    I was really tring to say that we had several opportunities to parlay him into something that can help us.

    He could have been packaged up for something big. After 06-07 we had him and Ryan O'Marra when O'Marra had value and Schremp had MAX value. Thats two recent first round picks, great add-ins for a big deal or to trade up in the draft.

    My contention is that you must acheive maximum value for an asset. At one point he looked like a real top-6 prospect, why no trade if he doesnt fit here?

    Why did we qualify him this year, LT?

    I say trade Omark now, too, he will never make it in Edmonton. He led the SEL in scoring, and has gained notoriety for his youtube tricks. We dont like the youtube stuff in E-town, and he is at max value right now.

  21. Lowetide says:

    MC: I'm not making excuses for Tambellini, he's on his own. :-)

    Does anyone have a list of GMs who have taken over and then handed the top job to someone outside the organization who doesn't have a proven track record?

    I think that must be one of those "things you should never do when they give you a job" pearls of wisdom.

    I can't get too worked up over that, and to be honest I'm not certain it's unwise.

  22. spOILer says:

    Maybe the first place he should look for un-signed talent is Chicago

    Just amazing Wimbledon final. Has this surpassed McEnroe-Connors in time yet?

  23. Lowetide says:

    DanMan: I don't think Schremp's ever had enough value to be part of a big deal. He hasn't shown enough and in fact at this point I'm hoping he stays in the AHL for an entire season and kills the opposition.

    THEN they can trade him.

    11-11. Crazy.

  24. spOILer says:

    3 Effins aces in a row. Eff as in Federer, in the 23rd game of the 5the set. And Roddick of course is serving ungodly as usual. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

  25. spOILer says:

    This might take longer than a 5 day test match.

  26. DBO says:

    tennis; longest match in history for number of games plaed. Two dominant servers. 12-12. luckily the wife is out so i can "work" on the yard later.

    Found this interesting tid bit of rumour from ESPN

    Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon all but said that he's looking to trade for a big, physical defenseman.

    "We're looking for the right guy, maybe on the back end," he told the Daily Herald. "We have a lot of assets we can trade."

    Patrick Sharp or Kris Versteeg could be trade candidates.

    - Obviously this could all go away if Chicago does lose the "6" rfa's. But with a young defense, would they have any interest in a Staios? His deal next year does not help them re-sign Toews and kane, but he's the kind of player they are looking for.

    Staios and a 2nd rd pick and a prospect for Sharp?

    13-12. man.

  27. DanMan says:

    I hope so, too, LT.

    Federers' serves are demonic.

  28. DBO says:

    deuce. could this be it?

  29. DanMan says:

    Scrap the 2nd round pick and make it Byfiglien or Ladd and I'm on board, DBO.

  30. DanMan says:

    *Byfuglien

  31. Lowetide says:

    Jesus lord Roddick just killed tennis on that serve.

  32. DBO says:

    13-13. crazy. at some point i do have to get some work done.

  33. Lowetide says:

    Has Roddick won a major?

  34. DanMan says:

    Not many rallies with these two freaks

  35. spOILer says:

    03 US open.

  36. Lowetide says:

    Maybe they should make them serve backhands?

  37. Lowetide says:

    thanks spOILer.

  38. DanMan says:

    Its turning into a pissing match. The returns on the serves are going into the crowd.

  39. DBO says:

    roddick making too many mistake here

  40. Lowetide says:

    Classic match.

  41. DBO says:

    great match. Roddick can't be too upset. hell of a match. Federer lucky nadal was hurt

  42. spOILer says:

    And finally one caves. What a marathon.

  43. DBO says:

    now I've got to go back to the yard.

  44. DanMan says:

    6 wimbletons! Ha can't be much older than 25, 26?
    Anyone know?

  45. godot10 says:

    Roddick lost one service game too many. i.e. One.

    Perfection is required to beat Federer at Wimbledon.

  46. Lowetide says:

    He'll be 28 later this summer, and was born a few weeks before Blue Monday.

  47. mc79hockey says:

    I have to say, I feel for Roddick there. Federer saying that he'd lost last year wouldn't be a huge consolation for me, given that the guy has fifteen majors.

  48. DanMan says:

    Thanks, LT.

    He could end up with 8 or 9 the way he plays there.

    That could be as unbeatable as 92

  49. mc79hockey says:

    Nice to see Veronica Vaughan in the stands.

  50. Traktor says:

    "What has burke done recently?"

    He's already signed two prominent NCAA free agents and it sounds like he's going to bag the best goaltending prospect in the world as well.

    He pouched arguably the best goaltending coach in the world, Francois Allaire.

    He recently signed one of the best stay at home defenders in the world that will do wonders for the development of Luke Schenn.

    He moved Kubina's contract and picked up a punishing defender at half the cost that will blend perfectly into the team Burke's trying to build.

  51. Coach pb9617 says:

    Nobody ever said that Conkkanen was a risk free proposition. I had a guy on my site comment the other day that he thought I'd oversold LaBarbera. I kind of agreed with him a bit so I went and looked at the numbers – LaBarbera has posted a .905 since the lockout, good for 30th in the NHL. Yep, not great.

    The only problem with that line of thinking is that the fellow behind him just got a 4 year $15MM deal the Oil.

    Goaltending's inherently risky stuff. I'll bet that there were a ton of Hawk fans in 2005 thrilled that their team had paid for experience in stability in net. By the end of 2008, I'll bet that they felt differently. One season shouldn't wipe that away.

    None of the top guys have played for a pennant since the lockout. Is it that they are on bad teams, or is it something else. Here's a chart of the goalies that have played for a pennant since the lockout – at left is their svpct rank that year and at right is their svpct rank among all goalies with two qualifying goalies since the lockout.

    What does it mean?

  52. Sean says:

    Wow what a match by Federer and Roddick. I cant imagine playing 4 hours of tennis at that pace. Why do we need 4 lines in hockey again?

    Anyways, I agree with you LT on Tambellini. He's done a decent job so far and I like how he doesnt tell the world his gameplan. A good value UFA contract would go a long way to improve this team and get them in the playoffs. A solid prospect signing would also be encouraging. What this team needs the most is Gagner or Cogs to take the next step in development but thats something Tambo has little control of. I also agree with the choice to wait for Heatley. I cant stand the guy but this team needs a top line LW and to prune the roster so I get it. That being said I dont know who else is available.

  53. mc79hockey says:

    I think it's coincidence coach. To start with, it was a lot more common prior to the lockout. Goalie's just one position, albeit an important one. I don't think that things have lined up lately.

  54. Moose says:

    LT,

    You, of all people, haven't read "Moneyball?" Is anyone else in complete disbelief over this?

  55. Coach pb9617 says:

    LT – I assume you've read his autobiography?

    His presence in Kansas City had just as much impact, if not more.

  56. Coach pb9617 says:

    I think it's coincidence coach. To start with, it was a lot more common prior to the lockout. Goalie's just one position, albeit an important one. I don't think that things have lined up lately.

    At the very least, and I hope you would agree, it dispels the notion that a team requires a franchise goaltender to win.

  57. Lowetide says:

    I haven't read Herzog's book. I haven't read Moneyball because I don't want to, so although the offer is appreciated Tyler I'll pass.

    Why? I don't love baseball anymore.

  58. spOILer says:

    Coach, does percentage of cap space used up by the franchise goalies have an effect?

    LT, with respect to Calgary and small pieces, they look like they're going to have a helluva time with depth scoring this season.

  59. mc79hockey says:

    At the very least, and I hope you would agree, it dispels the notion that a team requires a franchise goaltender to win.

    Yeah, this I agree with. With that said, it would seem to help if you've got a Crosby, Malkin, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Staal etc.

    I don't see a lot of those guys in the Oilers room. A franchise goalie (a real one) covers up a lot of mistakes.

  60. Asiaoil says:

    Comparing Bulin's last contract ($6.75 mil cap hit) with this one ($3.75 mil) is silly in terms of impact. The guy has a record and the wheels don't look like they are about the fall off. I'm betting that they expect him to carry a pretty heavy load this year, hope Dubnyk is ready to backup in year 2 & 3, and need Dubnyk to be able to take over as starter or split at a cheap rate in year 4. If that pans out the total goalie cost is modest and the 4th year is not an issue. The risk in this contract is more about having a young guy emerge by year 3 than anything else IMHO.

  61. Asiaoil says:

    Coach – you may not need a franchise goaltender to win – but you have to be decent to get your team to the dance and you damn well better get hot in the playoffs

  62. Coach pb9617 says:

    I haven't read Herzog's book.

    Even without a love of baseball, it's worth a look.

  63. Coach pb9617 says:

    AO: Does paying that Franchise Goaltender $6 million a year prevent you from building that winning team?

  64. Asiaoil says:

    Coach – no but the guy obviously needs to cover his number and you better find a few forwards/dmen to punch over their weight. A bunch of ways to skin the cat and I'm not sure there is any secret recipe as long as the guys you pay elite money to cover their number.

    I have no problem with the approach Tambo has taken. A) get a solid vet at a reasonable number to provide stability, then B) work hard to develop or acquire a young backup who can outperform a cheap deal at the backend of the vets contract to reduce cap risk. We know Tambo has done "A" – unclear if he is concerned about "B".

  65. Unleaded says:

    First and foremost, before any kind of effective talent search can actually happen, the Oilers need o clear out many of the contracts that they have taken on over the last few years. And that doesn't count all of the minor league contracts they may be offloading. I say may, because even if they are getting rid of some players, I haven't seen enough to suggest that they won't simply fill up the Falcons and the Thunder with other bad signings. Say what you will about the injuries on the farm, but that team didn't have the horses, and that is all on the procurement department.

    But back to the orginal thought… Even if you discount the debatable "bad" contrats the Oilers have, they still have 19 players (plus RFAs) under NHL contract for the next year representing $51M, and 12 players under NHL contract for the next two representing $43M. How do you make room for these players? Especially considering how many capable NHL players there are right now who simply are not getting offers to play?

    I'm not knocking the idea LT, but bringing in guys who could be something in a few years is only helpful if you have room (both places and capspace) for them in the bigs. And with the glut of serviceable players who could be signed for very reasonable short or mid-term deals right now…

  66. Asiaoil says:

    Once upon a time the Oilers had a stable number of elite talents surrounded by a rotating cast of cheap useful role players and decent goaltending that could turn it up a notch in the playoffs. But the Lowe era has been marked by an ever shrinking pool of anything resembling elite talent, ridiculous overpays to role players who never seem to leave, and goalie management by ouija board.

    The old model had a lot of merit – the Lowe system – well results speak for themselves.

  67. GF says:

    Moose, I'm with you in the Moneyball shock. But LT may have just abandoned baseball when it abandoned Montreal.

  68. doritogrande says:

    LT, with respect to Calgary and small pieces, they look like they're going to have a helluva time with depth scoring this season..

    I'll disagree with this. They've got lots of nice cheap talent filling the bottom nine.
    - Dustin Boyd
    - Curtis Glencross
    - Rene Bourque
    - Fred Sjostrom
    - David Moss
    - Mikael Backlund

    And with news that they've signed Jason Jaffray, I officially hate Calgary. He's one of LT's hidden gems. Has played the toughs for close to the last half-decade with my Moose and he's been a point per game player for the last 3. 19 and 14 games in the NHL the last two years. Probably good for 10 goals, 30-ish points if given a shot with linemates like Boyd and Glencross.

    This is his shot, and he's going to make it work. Manitoba is sorely going to miss him and to be honest, I'll be cheering for him when he plays against Edmonton, much the same way I cheer for Burrows, Bieksa and Kesler. The Moose have done nothing but mine talent since they began partnering with Vancouver. It hurts to see all of it go to a division rival.

  69. shep says:

    two of borque, moss, boyd and glencross is going to end up in the top six as it is now

  70. Bruce says:

    Read Moneyball recently. A good yarn, kind of loses its impact five years later when you realize all the "smart" drafts and signings pretty much turned out to be busts. But a fresh philosophy which obviously encountered some success.

    What an epic struggle at Wimbledon, both guys were serving brilliantly (I'll bet the server won 70-75% of all points) which made it a game of patience. Certainly one of the longest matches of the tiebreaker era, although it would have a ways to go to match this epic from 40 years ago.

    Something to see Laver, Borg, Sampras and Federer in the same room. I'd pick those guys as the top four male players for the 40-odd years I've been a fan (essentially, the open era), with Connors, McEnroe, Wilander, Lendl, Agassi and Nadal in the conversation but probably in the next room (literally in McEnroe's case today).

  71. PDO says:

    Bruce:

    Going back on my memory, but weren't Nick Swisher and Kevin Youkillis both heavily pimped in Moneyball?

  72. doritogrande says:

    shep:

    That's why I said bottom-9. I understand that Iginla, Langkow and Jokinen are going to drive the bus, but I fully expect the six mentioned, plus Conroy and Jaffray to contribute approximately 120 goals (approximately 15 goals apiece). Add that to the 40 from Iginla and 25 each from Jokinen and Langkow and I've got a (extremely) rough tally of 210 from the forwards. Chances are the big three exceed those goal totals, but I'm being conservative.

    Then you include the offense that's going to come from a back-end of Phaneuf and Bouwmeester… and I get a little depressed when I try and compare the Flames to the Oilers at this point.

  73. chartleys says:

    Looking at the recent events and our cap situation:

    If Katz doesn't mind a bit of salary eating:

    I'm burying Nilson this year in the minors. With the understanding he'll be playing top line minutes and expected to shoulder a lot of the responsibility down there (huge year in the minors couldn't hurt his value at this point and it also should give Daum a lot more fire power).

    Looking at the Neil sweepstakes:
    I'm calling up the other folks that were in the running and handing them Moreau's contract.

    That's enough cash to take on a complete additional centre and Ehtan's skill set is completely replaceable with a guy who can also win a faceoff.

    If the league elects to blow up chicago, Deal souray for some close to show ready type prospect
    and have enough cash to offer cam and versteeg a new home (between souray's contract,rowbear's and moreau's that'll be 9.5 mil for a 3C and the two offers Versteeg 3.75 mil barker 3.5 mil, maholtra 2.25 mil).

    Versteeg/Penner – Horc – Hemsky
    Osully/Penr-Gagner- Versteeg/Penner
    Cogs – Maholtra – Pisani
    JFJ – Pou/Potulny/Brule – Storts

    Vish – Gilbert
    Grebs – Barker
    Smid – Staios
    Strudwick

    Bulin
    JDD

    WE get a great deal younger and a bit more on track for the years to come.

  74. Abu says:

    It is indeed Youkilis and Swisher who Lewis paints as the ideal Moneyball players. Along with Scott Hatteberg and Jeremy Brown.

    In fact, Lewis jokes that Beane thought of Youkilis as "Euclis, the Greek god of walks."

  75. shep says:

    dg: sorry, my bad. i read "bottom six"

  76. Showerhead says:

    Doritogrande: AND Jaffray's sister is hot. So hot that, at a bison game last year, 20 of my drunk friends from Tache Rez started chanting my name just for talking to her in the stands for a while. So basically, a good signing is what I'm saying ;)

  77. Scott says:

    Does paying that Franchise Goaltender $6 million a year prevent you from building that winning team?

    I don't think this is the case. Fleury isn't currently a franchise goaltender and Pittsburgh won even though the man took up $5M in cap space. Chicago made it to the Conference Finals using north of $12M in cap space on goalies. The thing is, you need a bunch of other good players to make it work.

  78. BenJammin says:

    Here, here LT. I couldn't agree more. This is the summer that will demonstrate whether Tambs is in charge or still marching to Lowe's drum. The Heatley deal and the Neil offer smell of Lowe, but we will see.

    Here's hoping for some value contracts being signed soon.

  79. Chris says:

    Saying a deal Tambellini makes smells of Lowe seems a bit odd. Tambellini was Lowe's handpicked sucessor. So whether one liked Lowe or not, you have to imagine that he and Tambellini agree on a number of hockey related issues which was the driving force behind Tambellini's selection.

    We can only really hope that amounts to sharing an ability to find unheralded but useful defensemen as opposed to the obvious downsides.

  80. Bohologo says:

    Even if you don't like tennis, Wimbledon is a special place to watch the game.

    It's summer now, and if you liked what you just saw, read Federer As Religious Experience, by the late, great DF Wallace:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/20/sports/playmagazine/20federer.html

  81. Bohologo says:

    Sorry about the URL:
    http://miniurl.org/rPA

  82. Bohologo says:

    Oh, and don't skip the footnotes, where you will consistently find gems like:

    14-Formwise, with his whippy forehand, lethal one-hander, and merciless treatment of short balls, Lendl somewhat anticipated Federer. But the Czech was also stiff, cold, and brutal; his game was awesome but not beautiful. (My college doubles partner used to describe watching Lendl as like getting to see “Triumph of the Will” in 3-D.)

  83. Dennis says:

    That old uni reminds me of a time when two of the longest days of the year were the day before and then after the all star game.

  84. Bruce says:

    DBO: Right you are. I forgot about Youkilis cuz he never did go to the A's but Beane sure made a push for him, and with good reason it seems.

    Swisher was something of a no-brainer draft that kind of fell in their lap a la MPS, although Joe Blanton turned out pretty good I guess and Mark Teahen is a player so my comment was likely a tad harsh. Still, the A's didn't exactly knock 'em dead at the draft table despite a plethora of picks.

  85. oilswell says:

    From TPS: "Normally the Oilers will invite a half dozen or so players to camp to have a closer look but this year that number has been axed to just 3. The lone collegian is former Camrose Kodiak Jesse Todd who just finished his freshman season at Merrimack. The other two players are both CHLers."

    Not sure this change consistent with and extensive effort of reaching out to find hidden gems.

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