Another Flock of RFA’s

The Edmonton Oilers are going to be busy this summer in all areas. The draft, trades, signing Jagr, buying a ticket to Okla City for Ethan rifles–there’s not going to be much time to sleep.

I think we can help Steve Tambellini and the management group (I always think of them as a hopeful group, sipping tea and saying things like “when we get underground parking at the practice facility there’ll be no need to go outside AT ALL! Free agents will flock here!”) by listing the rfa’s and suggesting solutions.

  1. Sam Gagner. Samwise heads to rfa status with a $875,000 ticket (thanks speeds) and there are rumblings the club will merely qualify him (100% of last season’s salary). He’s a guy the Oilers might want to think about signing to a longer term deal (say three years) at a reasonable price. He may cost a lot more next summer.
  2. Andrew Cogliano. Cogs has a $850,000 pricetag this year and a qualifying offer seems reasonable. The Oilers have no reason to spend to the cap and Cogliano shouldn’t cost a lot more 2011 summer (if he’s still an Oiler).
  3. Marc Pouliot. The perennial prospect is making $825,000 and that’s probably his outer marker for 2010-11 (Oilers need to offer 105% to keep his rights). speeds had a great item on his blog about a month ago and makes a strong argument for an offer of slightly below this season’s number ($750k). If you can get the bottom end of the roster (forwards 12-14) squeezed in for under 2M large that’s a nice start to building a roster with experience, skill and value. Should a Pouliot take even a little step forward then the team could address a longer term solution next summer.
  4. Gilbert Brule. The would-be sniper is making $800,000 this season and is exactly the kind of player Edmonton will sign to a large number. I’ve estimated Edmonton will sign him to a $2.25M deal but as long as we’re doing the blue sky thing it might be wise to offer a 2-year contract for around $3M ($1.5M a year) to see if he bites. Two year deal is as far as I would go, but he’d be a nice potential value if you can keep his salary in a range.
  5. Devan Dubnyk. He’s making $700,000 this season and this is a contract with all kinds of alarm bells going on. Dubnyk is third on the depth chart this season and next but we know this management group suffered through an entire season with a three-headed goalie combination just so they could keep Jeff Deslauriers. This contract–the money, the one-way possibility, the roster mess it might cause–is a giant “stub his toe” negotiation for Steve Tambellini. The smart money qualifies him (105%) but without a one-way and then risks waivers in the fall. I’m not convinced the other guy is the better goalie but a decision needs to be made on these two young goalies.
  6. Jeff Deslauriers. A $625,000 cap hit this season and a likely pay raise during the summer. JDD has the confidence of the coach and that’s probably enough for him to win the DD/JDD battle. One hopes a 1-year, $1.1M contract gets it done.
  7. Theo Peckham. A $600,000 hit this season and a player who might give the organization good value in 10-11. I believe the Oilers need to offer him 110% (so, $660,000) for next season but he should be able to supply a better payback than Strudwick did in the 7 slot this past season.
  8. Ryan Stone. He’s making $600,000 this season. speeds idea (3-years, $550k per) is a good one, certainly better to offer it to Stone than Jacques (who skates like a hockey player, looks like a hockey player but may not in fact be a hockey player).
  9. Ryan Potulny. He’s a wonderful $595,000 bargain this season but that’ll end pdq once the summer arrives. I’d suggest that it takes $1M to get him signed and that the Oilers pull the trigger; if the club can get Potulny onside for the $700k speeds was talking about in his article that would be an exceptional potential value.
  10. JF Jacques. He’s making $525,000 this season and this is a player I’d let walk. Although Jacques has size and toughness, he can’t really take a pass or make one so he’s the human turnover.

The club has several minor league rfa’s (Ryan O’Marra, Bryan Lerg, Slava Trukhno, Josef Hrabal, Geoff Paukovich, Colin McDonald, Liam Reddox, Matt Nickerson) but we’ll cover them in-depth at the end of the Falcons season in mid-April. One final note: A couple of years ago the Oilers had a similar number of rfa’s and it is astounding how much of the top end (Pitkanen, Stoll, Grebeshkov) are gone. The top end of this group will return (unless dealt) but things may be different when Gagner, Cogliano and Brule get their next contracts.

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