FREE AGENCY 2012: GETTING IT RIGHT

This day is about finding the right chem for Taylor Hall and the young cluster that now includes Hall, the Nuge, Eberle, Yakupov, Justin Schultz and the kid blue bubbling under.

I begin this day with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The Edmonton Oilers are one sleep removed from one of their very best days and could emerge from this day as a playoff contender. On the other hand, some of the names we’re hearing as being “in the mix” are curious and troubling. Last year, I thought the additions of Eric Belanger and the other forwards would make the team better, but was worried about how they went about addressing blue. This season? We’re about to find out.


First, a note on Justin Schultz. THAT was a terrific moment yesterday, as the Oilers added a player who could have great value to the gifted cluster and gave up no assets to acquire him. He could end up being this generation’s Huddy or Gregg (not in style but in procurement cost) and great teams always have these kinds of back stories in at least a few places.

Second, a note on Ryan Smyth. I think it’s probably time we accept this isn’t going to work out, and sometimes it is for the better. The player may not have a clear idea about his value at this time, and the team may want to give at-bats to kids and newcomers. Best of luck to both sides.

THE SHOPPING LIST

  1. A top pairing defenseman capable of delivering big minutes at evens and at least one of PK and PP. 20+ overall. The range of player rumors in this category is vexing. Marc Methot is not going to fill this role, but he is rumored to be the player headed here. Bryan Allen and Mark Streit have also been rumored to Edmonton.
  2. A better Renney. I think yesterday was a very big day for Krueger. Based on reports, the key moments in the Schultz negotiations came when the new coach gave his vision and Schultz plus Hall started riffing on the possibilities. I imagine an Allman Brothers-style jam session that resulted in absolute magic. Can’t wait to see the vision on the ice.
  3. Justin Schultz or similar. Huge item for the Oilers. Should he emerge as a top 4, 35+ point defenseman who can handle reasonable opposition and remain in the black, Edmonton’s hard work this past week will sustain them for a decade on the blue. Brilliant.
  4. An established 2-way winger to mentor the young players who will compete for bottom 6 roles (Lander, Hartikainen, Pitlick, etc). Winnik is my choice here, but the Oilers may have someone else in mind. I always say Pisani but maybe this man is a center.
  5. Ryan Smyth or similar. Smyth is the best choice in my opinion, but if that doesn’t happen perhaps the Oilers should aim for a “bookend” winger to the Winnik above. Shane Doan may be a target. I’m reading Jagr stuff too, seems impossible
  6. A reasonable goaltending option for the Khabibulin free fall. I get nervous when we talk about the goalies, seems to me Edmonton should add a capable man whose salary will stop well short of $2M. I worry a little about some of the names out there.
  7. Get the rfa’s signed. Did a good job qualifying, but the Oilers often trade kids in this situation and Gagner isn’t out of the woods yet. Happy Omark was qualified, doubt he plays as an Oiler again.
  8. Crust. I added this one because Edmonton clearly plans on upgrading the Eager/Hordichuk group from a year ago. Names I’ve seen are Tootoo and Parros.

Another item involves offloading players. Edmonton has a lot of men under contract for next season, and if they are serious about finding a spot for Hartikainen then moving some wingers is going to happen.

One final note: we know from past history that expecting all of the moves to work out is folly, and that attempting to address six different things in one day means there are too many leaks in the boat. I’m hopeful we end the day with a clear top 4 defenseman, Ryan Smyth, Daniel Winnik and perhaps a reasonably priced goaltender to push the incumbents.

I expect we’ll say goodbye to a couple of players today. I’m hopeful Sam Gagner and Ladislav Smid aren’t among them. Godspeed, Edmonton Oilers. And be careful who leaves the room.

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60 Responses to "FREE AGENCY 2012: GETTING IT RIGHT"

  1. mike.c33 says:

    Yesterday, while discussing the addition of Justin Schultz to the Oilers’ blueline, my buddy said all the Oilers need is size. I am hopeful management doesn’t find another big, lotsa-talent-but-no-brains player (i.e. Eager) today. I hope the Oilers improve their skating / cycling game to compete with the bigger teams in the league. That’s why I’m thrilled Krueger is the new head coach. Between Krueger and Sutter, I’d bet Krueger is the best person to develop a system that can beat teams like the LA Kings.

    I think I’m still a little drunk from celebrating the Schultz signing.

  2. dawgtoy says:

    Doan, Doan, Doan, Doan, Doan.
    Schultz was huge, but you’re not off the hook yet Mr. Dithers.

  3. Jesse says:

    SMID? Bite your tongue good sir!

  4. mike.c33 says:

    Doan will ask for more money than Smyth IMO.

  5. Simmer24 says:

    Fantastic post LT as per usual. I am stuck spending the next week at a cabin with my inlaws who are all Flames fans so today is an important day for me! Quite to listen to the father in law try and downplay Yakupov and Schultz last night …. I suspect more of that over tthe next 5 days.

    I would love to see Smyth signed, but only for the right contract and I wouldn’t be upset at Steve if he stuck to his guns on this one. Winnik looks like a good option, so does Prust.

    Is it unreasonable to hope that we are in on Carle at this point too?
    Who are the goalies you are hearing?

  6. mike.c33 says:

    I am pretty sure we are stuck with the Khabibulin / Dubnyk tandem for one more year.

    Hopefully, the three-headed management beast can find another Gerber or Danis though.

  7. Lowetide says:

    Simmer: Hah, my father-in-law was a Flames fan too, used to drive me crazy but I’d give a lot of money for a phonecall from him today.

    Goalies? I worry about Brodeur. Oilers last two starters have been older types and I can see them going a little wonky on Brodeur and offering the best deal out there. It has happened before.

  8. Ducey says:

    The Oilers should be looking at Doan and Oli (the Oiler?) at C. If they get one of then, then flip Gagner for a defenseman or budding power forward.

    Gregor says Suter doesn’t want to play in Canada, I guess the Canucks, Leaves and Flames wrecked it for the rest of us.

    A Colby Armstrong would be nice.

    I think a trade later in the week is more likely than anything much today. Bouwmeester for Omark/ prospect once Feaster wakes up and realises he has too many D.

  9. Lowetide says:

    Ducey: I’d love Armstrong here but the worry is injury. IS he healthy enough to risk signing?

  10. Ducey says:

    Lowetide:
    Goalies? I worry about Brodeur. Oilers last two starters have been older types and I can see them going a little wonky on Brodeur and offering the best deal out there. It has happened before.

    I see management being happy with their goaltending. Anyway, he has maybe a year left, why would he come here? Presumably he sees NJ blowing up and wants to go somewhere he can win a Cup this year.

  11. Smarmy says:

    If the Oilers don’t sign much I don’t think I’ll be upset. I have the feeling a lot of these name players are going to get stupid sized contracts.

    As much as Carle or Garrison would help the team I don’t think 5 years of 5+ million is something fans are going to like a few years down the road. Suter is probably the only one I’d want to pay big money to. (I’m fine with elite money to elite players)

    If they end up with plenty of cap space. I wouldn’t mind them giving a one year over pay to a guy like Jagr, Doan or even Smyth. Wouldn’t mind if they found a trade for a Steve Ott and signed a Tootoo either.

  12. Woodguy says:

    Great, for years LT tries to trade Smid and nothing happens.

    Now that Smid is a legitimate shut down D, he wants him to saty, so that means he’s out the door.

    Actually, the way they (EDM management) talk about Smid I doubt he’s being moved, but no one is untouchable.

    They need a starter in OKC and they’ve done well there the last two years, so I hope that continues.

    Oilers are one groin pull away from Khabby being the starter.

    Oilers have 10 forwards on the roster signed, + MPS, + Lander + Gagner is 13 forwards. (Didn’t include Smyth or Omark, Harski is on the roster)

    Gotta think there will be some movement there.

    UFA’s have been v4.0′s weakness, hope smarter men in the room prevail.

  13. Lucinius says:

    I’d rather see the Oilers sign absolutely no one rather than see Smid on his way out.

    I like Smid. He’s like the little engine that could (in spite of self derailing into the side of a mountain every game). But I remember all defenders who’s names sound even remotely Russian in a good way — I still miss Mironov and the one I met, the quite Drunken Russian Ulanov.

    If Smyth doesn’t come back.. I’m not too torn. Last I heard (requisite salt needed) he wanted at least two years at 4 mil-ish; which is either one year too long or 1 million too much.

  14. sliderule says:

    From Tambos comment on tsn that trades look better than UFA I doubt they pick up anything more than crumbs.

    It looks like the Streit trade with isles is what they are going for.

  15. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    “I’m hopeful we end the day with a clear top 4 defenseman, Ryan Smyth, Daniel Winnik and perhaps a reasonably priced goaltender to push the incumbents.”

    Dear God LT… you have much higher expectations/hopes for today than I do… I’d be just happy if the mgt. team can wipe the Schultz celebration fog out of their eyes long enough to sign their names to Smyth’s contract… anything else is beyond my expectations and even Smyth (as you note) is doubtful.

    “I expect we’ll say goodbye to a couple of players today. I’m hopeful Sam Gagner and Ladislav Smid aren’t among them. ”

    What is this!!!??? are trying to give me heart palpitations? Don’t put Smid’s name on a page about trades… it’s bad for the health of your readership.

    Gagner I could stomach… like kidney failure… (I can manage with one, not well, of course)… Smid would be more like liver failure….

    ps. you’re killing it on the Summer tunes file.

  16. mike.c33 says:

    As long as the Streit trade doesn’t cost us Petry, Smid or either Shultz, I will be a very happy man if it comes to fruition.

  17. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Lowetide,

    “Goalies? I worry about Brodeur. Oilers last two starters have been older types and I can see them going a little wonky on Brodeur and offering the best deal out there. It has happened before.”

    That’s precisely the problem… they might pull an inflated Rolosson (solid bet)/Khabibulin (bad bet) by going the legacy finish route (see: Frank Thomas; Hakeem Olajuwon)… stupid, stupid contracts based out of the sales and marketing department not the pro scouting dept.

    Someone is going to see a HOFer looking to retire in their jersey and think ticket sales and over pay and over term for Brodeur…

    Please let that not be us.

  18. Rondo says:

    Why would Edmonton want these old guys Bryan Allen and Mark Streit . The risk reward on these guys is bad. Oilers are building toward the future , these are not the guys you want. Can’t solve all Oiler problems in 1 yr.

  19. wordbird says:

    LeBrun just tweeted that Jonas Gustavsson is hitting the market, won’t stick in Wpg. worth a look by the Oil?

  20. hockeyguy10 says:

    If yesterday was like Christmas in Oilerland I hope Tambo goes Streit to Long Island for a Boxing Day deal. Some combo of Eager/Omark and a pick to get a deal done.

  21. Lowetide says:

    Rondo: The top 4D addition is important imo because of the Whitney injury worry and now Schultz the younger growing pains. Add those two things to normal injuries and the Oilers need 5 top 4D imo.

    And Streit’s a good bet.

  22. Jesse says:

    Rondo:
    Why would Edmonton want these old guysBryan Allen and Mark Streit . The risk reward on these guysis bad.Oilers are building toward the future , these are not the guys you want.Can’t solve all Oiler problems in 1 yr.

    And you also can’t ice a team comprised entirely of 18 – 22 year olds.

  23. namflashback says:

    I’m guessing that addressing a few of the other items on the shopping list via trade just makes more sense because of the term that is going to be commanded – particularly for the first few days of UFA.

    Just listening to Rick Carriere and the stuff on development camp, they talk about the second wave – which is the set of 09, 10, 11 draftees that they are nurturing in the system. I’m guessing they are hoping and planning for a couple of these guys to graduate every year (that’s all they really need right, 1 D, maybe 2F each year). Most UFA get 3 years+ in this first week, that may be longer than they want to go for most players.

    However. there might be value in a risk/depth signing like Armstrong or Latendresse. These are two guys who are probably worried about their future, and might go for a 1 year term to show they are healthy. If they are not, then the Oilers aren’t stuck with it.

  24. Jesse says:

    Part of me wants the Oilers to be done with picking up reclamation projects, but I guess that’s sort of how you “buy low, sell high” isnt it? That seems to be what made Jones such a good waiver pickup in hindsight. But I think they should flip him while his numbers look good.

  25. Doug McLachlan says:

    Pierre LaBrun confirms that Carle is going to market. Would have to think that he would look fine in Oilers silks.

    I like the idea of Jokinen as a #2 center if we have to move Gagner for a Yandle or Striet but remember the lesson of Calgary. Oli is a shooter and pairs better with Hemsky’s playmaking than Ebs or Yakupov.

    BTW, I’m not comfortable with the idea of Khabibulin being out mentoring Russian for Yakupov. Perhaps it is presumptuous to think he needs a mentor at all and a Russian one in particular but think it makes sense.

    Think Kruger might know Pavel Bure’s number (or might Gretzky)? Out of the box thinking that the Russian Rocket has an interest in coaching (always thought Larionov would be the first Russian head coach in the NHL but he’s gone the agency route). Isn’t Fedorov coaching in the KHL? Just a thought.

  26. Rondo says:

    Jesse: And you also can’t ice a team comprised entirely of 18 – 22 year olds.

    Petry 24

    N Schultz 29

    Whitney 29

    Smid 26

    Potter 28

    Sutton 37

  27. Zack says:

    I’ve heard some rumblings that apparently Doan will wait until July 9th at the earliest to make his decision ((based on the whole Pheonix situation). If Smyth isn’t coming back then I wonder if Doan would move close to home?

    About adding crust, I would love to see Prust signed by us, it seems he can be a “useful” agitator who plays more than 50 games a season. As for the pipe dream,

    1) Suter
    1b) Carle or Garrison
    2) Brodeur – cant see that happening on both parties, especially when we’ve got MVP between the pipes
    3) Smyth/Doan and or Jagr
    4) Prust/Konopka

    Hopefully we’ll see at least one of these names signed. I think a Suter signing, which is not cap binding, can really change the dynamic and direction of the entire team, especially where we sit right now. Unfortunately something tells me yesterday was the most “exciting” signing of the summer. A great accomplishment for the organization but we need some legitimate NHL signings today.

  28. Woodguy says:

    mike.c33:
    As long as the Streit trade doesn’t cost us Petry, Smid or either Shultz, I will be a very happy man if it comes to fruition.

    Lubo (1 year left on contract) got traded for a prospect and a 3rd.

    Streit is a very similar player with 1 year left on his contract.

    He won’t cost too much, given the market.

    A good vet Dman with 1 or 2 years left on his deal is ideal for the Oilers.

    No term worries and the price won’t be dear.

    I’d love to see Bouwmeester here. Big ticket, but only 2 years left, which the Oilers can handle.

  29. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Doug McLachlan,

    “Think Kruger might know Pavel Bure’s number (or might Gretzky)? Out of the box thinking that the Russian Rocket has an interest in coaching”

    Bure hasn’t had anything to do with hockey for like 10 years. TSN did a special on him around christmas. He lives in Miami and has fallen in love with Ju juitsu, and is now a black belt, or whatever.

    He said he watches games every now and then but that’s it. He doesn’t even talk to other hockey people much… he’s just completely moved on with his life.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHfYWndPV4M

  30. Jesse says:

    Rondo: Petry 24

    N Schultz 29

    Whitney29

    Smid26

    Potter 28

    Sutton37

    Somehow you managed to miss the hyperbole. Did you expect me to be shocked that Andy Sutton was over 22?

    Obviously I was getting at the fact that the oilers need balance, especially when speaking about the defense. Young, talented Defensemen do not get traded hardly ever. So they can either trade for a lousy young defenseman, or they can balance out the young D (Petry 24, J Schultz 22, tuebert
    22, Plante 23, and any other number of young D men that get called up when injury hits) with a steady reliable veteran. That was probably one of the biggest holes on the 29th place team last year: another capable veteran defenseman.

  31. DBO says:

    Schultz may be Whitney insurance. Right now the issue is who to pair with him, as Potter and Sutton are there.
    Smid – Petry
    Schultz – Shultz
    Whitney – Sutton
    Potter

    If we walk away with Zanon, Armstrong, Smyth and we move Belanger then I think it is a great start. We have a 2 yr window before too many kids get huge dollars. That is our window

  32. Marc says:

    I hope that one of Yandle, Tyutin or JayBo is an Oiler by the end of the day.

    Yandle would be the most expensive to acquire and he’s probably the least skilled defensively of the 3, but I think he’s a good bet for 50+ points per season on this Oilers team.

    Tyutin is Columbus’ Gilbert. He plays a ton of tough minutes on a terrible team and still puts up pretty nice looking numbers. His contract is a bit long, but with the contracts that are going to be handed out today, I think we may have to recalibrate the definition of a value contract. In a world where Prust is worth $2M+ per season and a Gaustad somewhere north of $3M per, $4.5M for a Dman as versatile as Tyutin really doesn’t look that bad.

    JayBo would (I would think) be the cheapest to acquire. He’s not worth his cap hit, but he’d probably be the Oilers’ best defensive Dman the moment he joined the team.

    None of these guys are perfect, but add any one of the to the Oilers and they look a lot like a playoff team next year.

  33. Traktor says:

    You never answer this question but how does adding another winger make more sense than adding another center?

  34. Wes Mantooth-11 says:

    I still don’t give Tambellini a pass until he fills those hole as you mentioned.

    I would target these players. worry about moving extra contracts out later.

    Bouwmeester, I personally believe him to be the best available defensemen.

    Tootoo

    Clowe Would love for the Oilers to swing a trade for this dude

    Doan

    Smyth

    Latendresse

  35. BlacqueJacque says:

    Does anyone doubt that Hall is getting – or at least should get – the C next year?

    When it comes time to sign the third-most coveted free agent, the Oilers don’t bring Eberle, don’t bring Nuge, and they certainly don’t bring the Horcster.

  36. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Marc,

    hear, hear for tyutin!!

    the length might be an issue…

    http://capgeek.com/players/display.php?id=591

    but I gather unless his production dies or he suffers a series of injuries, he will always be movable.

  37. Lowetide says:

    Tyutin would be excellent, I’d be very pleased.

  38. Traktor says:

    It seems because Gagner and Horc are two of your favorite players that you don’t want to address the position because it might have an impact on them. Weird.

    I would be more than happy if Edmonton added a good winger but it would be well down the list of things I would want to accomplish.

  39. Rondo says:

    I would take any of these Dmen if they were available.

    Fedor Tyutin

    Bouwmeester

    Garrison

  40. DBO says:

    Wow. Staal signs 10 yr $60 mill deal. Is he that good.

  41. Traktor says:

    Taking on a 6 year contract of an average top 4 D (Tyutin) would be terribly shortsighted imo.

    Save the long-term contracts for Hall, Eberle ect

    We’ve already been burnt 3 times with those deals (Souray, Horcoff, Bulin)

    Even Belanger’s deal turned out poor and it was only 3 years.

  42. Lowetide says:

    Traktor:
    It seems because Gagner and Horc are two of your favorite players that you don’t want to address the position because it might have an impact on them. Weird.

    I would be more than happy if Edmonton added a good winger but it would be well down the list of things I would want to accomplish.

    I’d love to see an upgrade on Horcoff for the tough minutes and slide him down the depth chart. He’s slowing and it is overdue. I don’t see that being the priority. I think Gagner will need to step up and play tougher minutes and the Nuge will play tougher minutes no matter what because the opposition coach will make it so.

    Is there a big list of tough minutes, stifling zone start C’s on the UFA market?

  43. Lowetide says:

    Ryan Smyth deal close, as per Bob McKenzie

  44. DBO says:

    Mackenzie tweeting that Smyth deal is close

  45. Traktor says:

    Lowetide:

    Is there a big list of tough minutes, stifling zone start C’s on the UFA market?

    Stauffer and Tambellini have both hinted that trades might be the better option this year. I’m sure there is someone.

  46. DBO says:

    Dreger says 2 yrs $2.25 per for Smyth. Awesome

  47. matmik says:

    Darren Dreger ‏@DarrenDreger

    Ryan Smyth agrees to 2 year deal with Oilers. $2.25 per year.

    not bad at all

  48. Traktor says:

    I hope Edmonton does nothing today. The prices are just too stupid.

    It might be window shopping but I would be offering up 2 year deals.

  49. DBO says:

    Wow. Just wow. MacT the gm of common sense maybe.cause if they add a solid D via trade and a backup goalie I am going to get shit faced because the world may be ending

  50. Lucinius says:

    That is an awesome deal for Smyth. Right amount of money for a two year deal. Good on Smyth and the management.

  51. Traktor says:

    Not a bad money/term deal for Smyth. I wonder if Harty or MPS gets moved now.

  52. DBO says:

    New thread

  53. cabbiesmacker says:

    It will be a good day / week / month if,, when elapsed, our top three C list doesn’t read RNH, Horcoff, and Gagner.

    Can’t see the Oilers making a big splash on the FA front but they might be getting cocky enough with their recent run of 4 leaf clovers to actually try some serious trading.

  54. Bos8 says:

    Centers, please Lord a center that can take a faceoff and isn’t pushed off the puck. Any D signed, should be short term as the pipeline should be getting primed.

  55. cabbiesmacker says:

    Bos8:
    Centers, please Lord a center that can take a faceoff and isn’t pushed off the puck.Any D signed, should be short term as the pipeline should be getting primed.

    Oli, Oli, Oli or a trade for Dubinsky might mean management actually wants to be in the playoffs next season. Dare to dream.

  56. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Traktor,

    damn machine ate my comment: gist:

    “established 2-way winger to mentor”

    each word “established” “two-way” “mentor” implies weaknesses in Jones, Eager, Petrell. LT seems to looking to upgrade there. add to that worry about Smyth (now gone) and wings need a depth boost. with Smyth back in the fold a lot of that goes.

    You’re right though… C is a weak spot. didn’t help losing Brule and O’Marra (not great options, but in the system none the less) without replacement or upgrade.

  57. Doug McLachlan says:

    Romulus Apotheosis,

    Thought Bure was just out of the #Canucks world, not hockey world.

    Still waiting for the Russian/Euro influx into the coaching/management ranks. Kruger seems like a bridge. Dave King might have been another. It’s going to happen some day and I will think those ahead of the curve will reap the rewards.

  58. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Doug McLachlan,

    Agree. It’s like black coaches in Football… eventually the tide breaks.

    But I don’t see Bure being part of it. Watch that video. He hasn’t put on skates in 7 years!! he’s enjoying the sun and retirement.

  59. jfry says:

    i know a few guys who hang out with armstrong during the summer. to use my friend’s language, “he’s fucked.”

    sounds like he’ll never be the same player due to injuries. otherwise, he’s a pure burke style guy and never would have been bought out. it’s to bad.

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