How many “value” contracts do the Oilers have on their current roster. I’m talking about players making (say) less than $2M a year and delivering top 12F or top 6D minutes successfully? I count Jeff Petry and Magnus Paajarvi among the current group, your mileage may vary.
It makes sense that if you’re going to give $8M to your lead players, then at some point the number of men who can get paid that amount on each roster is finite; it also follows that you’re going to need a lot of players playing big minutes and making less than $2M a season. In this way, the ideal is perhaps represented by the 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers, who had a large number of value deals (and remember this was a different era in terms of dollars):
- Marc Andre Bergeron ($931k). Bergeron played 1600 minutes in the 05-06 season, 350 of that on the powerplay. He delivered 2.74/60 with the man advantage but was pretty solid at EVs (1/60) and his 15-20-35 for the season was exceptional for the price.
- Ales Hemsky ($901,740). Hemsky played 1375 minutes in the 05-06 season, slightly over 400 of them on the powerplay. His PP/60 number (6.17) was very nice, his EV number 2.25 was a little better than he managed this past season (2.09) but that PP number helped him lead the team in scoring (19-58-77) and he delivered 6-11-17 in the playoffs too. A wonderful payoff for less than a million, a season to remember.
- Shawn Horcoff ($1M). Horcoff played almost 1600 minutes, almost 300 on the PP and 225 on the PK. In 05-06 he went 3-3-6 on the PK (about 1.6/60), went 4.82/60 on the PP and then 2.44 at EVs and this was against the other team’s good players.
- Fernando Pisani ($611,800). In 05-06 he was excellent in the regular year and ridiculous in the postseason. Pisani played 1100 minutes in 05-06, 150 on the PP. He did a lot of heavy lifting at EVs and still managed to score 1.84/60 (he was 1.39 this past season) and 3.59 on the PP. Pisani was Guy Lafleur in the post season, 14-4-18 in a run I will never forget. At $611,800 he was ridiculous value.
- Jarret Stoll ($501,600). Stoll played 1500 minutes in 05-06, 410 on the PP and 200 on the PK. He was a pretty valuable hockey player. On the PP he was 4.53 (4.2 this season) and at EVs he was 2.35 (2.2 this season) on the way to 82gp, 22-46-68 totals. At the price, he was extremely valuable.
- Raffi Torres ($875,000). Raffi played 1100 minutes in 05-06, 224 of them on the PP. He’s pretty famous for wandering out there but his results have always been solid. His EV number in 05-06 (2.07) was pretty close to this past season (1.94) and his PP number (2.95) was better than this year (0.40). At this price, he was a bargain.
Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz are going to get paid. Ryan Jones? Andy Sutton? Not so much.
Where do NHL teams look for bargains? Where should the Oilers be looking?
- “The system.” The club is trying to elevate Paajarvi and Hartikainen this season and need a constant pipeline from the minor leagues to feed the big club.
- “College free agents.” Taylor Fedun is a recent example of such a player. Although he hasn’t played in the NHL yet, that type of procurement is important.
- “Drafting older players.” We saw Edmonton do this in 2012, with such names as John McCarron, Joey Laleggia and Erik Gustafsson.
- “European pro’s.” Woodguy has been talking about Grebeshkov recently, and allow me to throw out the name Marc Pouliot.
The Oilers have the Belanger’s and the Eager’s and the Sutton’s, and maybe they go that way again. However, if we enter the summer with some Jan Hejda “who?” signings and trades we’d do well to have a long look at the player and contract.
The Perry-Getzlaf signing means Anaheim will be employing some guys at the other end making well less than Belanger and Jones and Eager. Edmonton will probably have more Potter’s and Petrell’s in their future too. The well paid NHL veteran role player may well feel like a calligrapher would have in about 1975: uneasy.