“Part of getting to the Stanley Cup final has to do with ‘bonne fortune’ and recruitment is the key. At the end of the day, I used to tell people that winning is 100 per cent coaching, but coaching is 90 per cent recruitment, so you’ve got to have the horses. You’ve got to have the horses.” -Pat Quinn
The Kansas City Royals, from the time they began as a franchise, were always looking for long term solutions. Always. They found Amos Otis in New York City and got him for nothing. Otis played centerfield admirably for a decade and then a little, and that transaction was the template for KCR. If I had to choose an expansion team as “ideal” it would be the Royals (although the Flyers were also amazing and the Sabres not far behind).
Most of Craig MacTavish’s transactions have been attempts to improve the team now and well into the future. A lot of attention was drawn to the Benoit Pouliot contract, but if you look at how long the problem has been plaguing the team it makes sense. High risk? You bet. But if it works, the Oilers have solved a problem for several years via free agency. The Pouliot contract could be the best since MacT arrived (Boyd Gordon was also quality) and I do think we’ll grow to believe the Mark Fayne deal was a winner, too. Younger players, less Ference and more late-20’s, that appears to be the template.
FREE AGENTS 2015 (20’s)
If we can agree the Oilers may be in the market for a center, a goalie and (possibly) a defensemen next summer, is there anyone worth extending a Pouliot (or greater) contract?
- Jeff Petry, Edmonton: A nice range of skills and young enough to sign long term without extreme worry.
- Michal Neuvirth, Buffalo: A solid 26-year old goalie playing for an awful team. I’m saying there’s a chance.
- Jason Spezza, Dallas: Terribly unlikely, but the best C option for miles via free agency.
TRADING SOME OF THE YOUNG BLUE
The Oilers have a stunning number of interesting young defensemen in Edmonton and on the farm. Martin Marincin and Oscar Klefbom are in Edmonton, there are a half dozen interesting AHL prospects, there’s Darnell Nurse in junior and Joey Laleggia in college and that Lagesson kid in Dubuque. MacT’s shopping list (now and in summer) is going to target C, D and G, and some of these kids are going away.
David Schlemko is on waivers this morning. He’s 27, mobile and can move the puck well, plus he’s played in 194 career games. Now, I have no idea if his skills have eroded or what’s going on, but if you’re about to trade a defenseman in a deal for a center, Schlemko may be able to help. No big deal, but a curio I wanted to mention before we start the day.
I’ll be hosting Saturday Sports Extra at noon today, lots of Oilers and Eskimos talk as we prepare for a massive sports Sunday in Edmonton.