Reject All Signals

Remember awhile back when I suggested the Edmonton Oilers weren’t that far away from being a playoff contender?

Reject all signals.

The beauty of having Steve Tambellini follow Kevin Lowe in the General Manager’s chair is that I don’t have to explain “scorched earth” to my kids. They can experience it first hand.

Somewhere in the bowels of Rexall place a plan was hatched in the not too distant past. It is a massive plan in scope and no doubt includes the new arena as the centerpiece. It also includes a lot of sucktastic hockey. Here are 12 things we can be pretty certain about this evening:

  1. The template is Pittsburgh and Chicago. When the Penguins selected Ryan Whitney (above) 5th overall in 2002 it began a watershed series of impact drafts for Mario’s team. Malkin, Crosby, Fleury and Jordan Staal were all taken very high 2002-06. You can start the timer from the Gagner draft or wait until the Hall/Seguin selection this summer to begin the timeline, but either way the “plan” is to be putrid.
  2. The most important man in the organization is Stu “Magnificent Bastard” MacGregor. He’s going to get a lot of bullets in the chamber over the next few seasons. Stu needs to walk away with a cluster along the lines of Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook and others.
  3. The only way to make any sense out of the Lubo trade is to approach it from the perspective of a team with little wish to compete in the next 24 months. That also makes the Grebeshkov trade understandable. Less than 100 cents on the dollar is fine if you’re going the wrong way. On purpose. No disrespect to Ryan Whitney, he’s a legit NHL defenseman, but Visnovsky is a guy you should overpay for and the Oilers sent him away because of money (cap) and were willing to accept a lesser player.
  4. There’s no need to worry about signing Jagr or another big name free agent. Only the addled would choose to be part of this team in 10-11 and 11-12, and if the Oilers are going to ask the fanbase to suffer through another two years of garbage then they sure as hell better do it right.
  5. Ethan Moreau is no longer a player of value. It must be an especially harsh kick in the nuts, especially considering teams would have had him for a bonus season.
  6. Fernando Pisani’s injury history bit him again. It likely meant no team was willing to risk bringing him in, and healthier men were distributed throughout the league on the day. Still, I hope he returns next season.
  7. Steve Staios proves defensemen retain value. Johnson isn’t much at all, but a 3rd rd pick in 2010 or 2011 has value. We should remember that next deadline when the Oilers send away a Tom Gilbert or a Ryan Whitney.
  8. We should be ready for the Oilers to deal anyone taken in any draft before Gagner in 2007. Perhaps a little too drastic but the Hemsky contract is effectively a wasted opportunity (and someone should be fired for it).
  9. We’re going to see a lot of Gord Mark-types. Auditions begin tonight and show no signs of stopping. Hoping to see Johan Motin in an NHL game–shazam! it is done. He wore #58 tonight, looked like Peter Billingsley in A Christmas Story most of the night.
  10. The pressure is off. Sometimes young teams surprise and reel off a few wins under these circumstances. This needs to be avoided at all costs, which makes the Lubo trade today even more poignant.
  11. They’ll sign Mike Comrie in the summer. No other reason to keep him, Comrie showed any and all that he’s recovered and should have been sent down the line. This is terrible news for O’Sullivan and Cogliano.
  12. The Oilers are going immerse themselves in size and grit. “We’re back” to the Coke Machines and knuckle-draggers. The men hired today are Whitney (6.04, 220), Jones (6.01, 206) and Johnson (6.01, 211) and the main one sent away (Lubo) was 5.10, 188. Wait for the draft, folks. We’re going to see a lot of “one-eyebrow” types.

A couple of things:

  • Thanks Steve! I’ll do a “sail on” post in the next day or so but the guy was a heart and soul warrior in the Lee Fogolin-Jason Smith tradition. I wish him the best.
  • I’m absolutely heartbroken that they traded Lubomir Visnovsky. He is a joy to watch and made even this dreary team sparkle when he was on the ice. One of the best players to ever put on an Oiler uniform. Seriously.

Finally, a few words on the new hires:

  1. Ryan Whitney: A nice NHL defenseman who can help the powerplay and has size. I like him and especially liked his actuality where he spoke of coming in and taking on a leadership role. It should be easy to cheer for him.
  2. Ryan Jones: He’s a good pickup, didn’t cost anything. He’ll be in the 4line mix come fall and could beat out JF Jacques for a depth job. A possible gem.
  3. Aaron Johnson: 7D, might be the new Jason Strudwick.
  4. The picks: Grebs pick should be in the 45-50 range, Staios on the good side of 100.
  5. The cap room: After all of the worry and talk about getting under the cap, I doubt they spend close to it next season. You don’t need 58M to employ a roster of 6′s and 7′s. Having said that, Grebeshkov (3.15M), Lubo (saving 1.6M) and Staios (saving 2.7M moving forward) means the Oilers will shave $7.45M off the cap with the deals of the last few days (minus the replacement cost for each roster position). Added to Pisani’s number coming off the cap (2.5M) and possible buyouts for O’Sullivan, Nilsson and Moreau and Tambellini is a winner in the counting room.

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