A year ago, I wrote the following:
- Maybe the Oilers are wise to trade Gagner for Kulikov, draft Leon Draisaitl, give Anton Lander and Mark Arcobello and Tyler Pitlick and Steve Pinizzotto a season to establish themselves. The fan base will develop more rage, we’ll bitch and moan about the arena, and I’ll write about Connor McDavid. McDavid’s NHLE is 82gp, 13-31-44—the point total is close to Hall’s (46) in his draft year. There is little doubt he’s a generational talent, and the Oilers must have a book on him. Is it worth one more year of suck?
- If the Edmonton Oilers finish 28th again next season, and draft third overall, do they have the assets to move up from three to one? Maybe. It would depend on the team at number one, but at some point the current center of the cluster may give way to yet another. Incredible. Either way, the idea of hanging on for another season of suck is beyond noxious for you and me, but for the Edmonton Oilers it is a possibility. The Edmonton Oilers may be 12 months away from becoming Connor McDavid’s team. The actions of Craig MacTavish this summer will tell us how they feel about another winter of discontent.
- There was a time when I would have balked at the idea of Craig MacTavish flushing a season. Acquisitions like Mark Fraser and his postseason presser give me pause. There is little to no evidence that this team turned north in the final 30 games, and the spin was clumsy—impossible from such a gifted orator, but it happened just the same. I entered last summer with hope and anticipation, but the postseason media conference and the late-season activity leave me ashen.
Most of that came true, including another noxious and plodding post-season media avail from Craig MacTavish. I don’t believe the Oilers planned out the entire disaster (after all, the GM and the coach didn’t survive in their roles) but it’s also true that MacT didn’t fix the goaltending early (or at all) and by the time Dallas Eakins was fired it was pretty much over.
We haven’t heard too much about Peter Chiarelli’s plans, but for me there’s a real urgency to get things done. Why? Connor McDavid’s entry-level deal means three seasons of ridiculous value from one contract. Remember our multiple discussions about those? When the Oilers went to the SCF, all of Hemsky, Horcoff, Stoll, Torres and Pisani were value deals:
- 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.
The Oilers had SIX guys making far less than value, and that was a big damn deal on the 2005-06 team. Credit should be given Chris Pronger, Dwayne Roloson, Ryan Smyth, Mike Peca and others for that season and playoff run, but those value contracts were massive in terms of quality and depth. Massive.
POSSIBLE VALUE CONTRACTS 2015-16
- C Connor McDavid. He isn’t an Oilers player yet, but if everything holds true this player will be a major bargain even with the bonus structure.
- R Nail Yakupov. At $2.5M, the young Russian has a chance to deliver well north of that number in real value.
- C Anton Lander. $988K cap hit should represent fantastic value if Lander can continue as he did in the back half of last season.
- D Oscar Klefbom. $1.244M for a solid top 4D is a very good number.
Added to a player like Taylor Hall (who has a fantastic contract), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Benoit Pouliot and others, these value deals mean the Oilers have true quality deeper into the lineup. There are four I see, it would be great if Peter Chiarelli could add two more, but it’s more likely we see ‘value contracts’ emerge from the underlying group that might include Iiro Pakarinen, Martin Marincin, Andrew Miller and others. A lot of those decisions will depend on the coach.
Edmonton Oilers hope to have a new coach in place by the end of the month, am told.
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) May 12, 2015
Chiarelli’s list of things to do might look like this:
- Identify and hire the coach/assistants
- Draft Connor McDavid
- Draft substantial talents after him for the ‘McDavid cluster’
- Acquire a top pairing defender
- Acquire a replacement for Jeff Petry
- Acquire a starting goaltender
- Acquire a ‘Pisani’, and that player could be a center like Carl Soderberg
Fair? I think that’s fair. Getting the right coach hired one month before the draft would be ideal, but if they have to wait awhile then so be it. Quite a lot of chatter now about Mike Babcock not being the right ‘fit’ but for me that’s probably framing the issue after checking out level of interest. The Oilers, God love them, closely monitor public reaction to things and the verbal we’re seeing now (Hall and Ebs endorse McLellan, Oilers have talked to Holland but not Babcock) tell me that Babcock’s list probably doesn’t include Edmonton. Remember, it takes two to tango. Would love to be wrong on this btw, I think Babcock would be golden for the Oilers. I’m also convinced McLellan would be golden too, btw.
- Shawn Mullin: I know the Oilers were interested in Laurikainen when he was in Swift Current and it didn’t come together. In a year of pro hockey in Finland he not only showed his junior numbers were no fluke… he improved them in his country’s top professional league. Laurikainen was good enough that he was runner up for the league’s rookie of the year award. Source
That link has some great information, well worth the read. I think Laurikainen is No. 4 on the depth chart (behind the new starter, Scrivens, Brossoit) but it’s also important to remember that the organization is going to give this young man a shot. If he stops pucks at .920 or better in the AHL, he will get an NHL chance during this contract.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
10 this morning, TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. The new goalie, the coaching situation and the WHC’s.
- Mike Ringrose, Spruce Grove Saints and Vimy hockey. I want to talk about coaching personalities, the stern types versus the rah-rah types and the importance of assistant coaches in the process.
- Darrin Bauming, TSN1290. The Blue Bombers had a helluva draft by my eye, we’ll talk about it.
- Justin Bourne, The Score. Habs last team out among the Canadian NHL clubs, do they have to do something drastic like hire Mike Babcock?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. 90 minutes!