Friday, October 28, 2005


Is that right? Wow!

It's no secret Lowe has been looking for a first-line centre for a long time.

That's Jim Matheson in today's Edmonton Journal, seemingly stating that Kevin Lowe must be the most incompetent GM in the NHL (well, 3rd most; Doug Maclean and Dale Tallon, your reputations are safe for now).

Is this possible? Weren't half the players in the NHL without contracts on July 31st? Has Kevin Lowe been looking for a first-line centre for a long time, but just hasn't managed to find one available?

No - it's got to be that he just didn't want one that badly. Set aside Joe Thornton and Vinny Lecavalier, who were both RFAs and signed for $6M+ with their old teams. Even set aside Peter Forsberg, who signed as a UFA with Philly for $5.75M. The Oilers have their one high-priced superstar in Pronger, and I think that's reasonable.

But come on. Look at the short list of centres with new teams this season who could certainly be considered 1st-line guys:
And those are just the unrestricted free agents. If you were looking for a 1st-line centre for a long time, you might want to consider throwing an offer at a restricted free agent. All these guys re-signed with their own teams this past off-season:
And don't forget Chemical Litvinov's most famous alumnus, recently seen helping an NHL team make a huge late run at the playoffs. Where was that again?

If you're inclined to defend Kevin Lowe by quibbling with the names I've listed, I hear you, but what's the alternative course of action. If you're not going to hire an available unrestricted free agent, or pursue a restricted free agent, it's not at all obvious where you find a 1st-line centreman. Where exactly has Lowe been looking?

And to be clear, "sitting around in your office, hoping Jay Feaster calls offering Brad Richards for Marc-Andre Bergeron" does not qualify as "looking".


I just find it funny that Mike Milbury was nowhere in your top three

I was actually suprised that no teams (that I can think of) threw offer sheets at restricted free agents (e.g., Spezza).

It was almost as if the GM's had a gentleman's agreement not to try and poach other teams players in that way.

Or were there some that I missed?

Also, to be fair, Lowe apparently did go after Kariya and Forsberg quite aggressively. I can't find the original article, but this place quotes the article where Lowe mentions he was convinced for 36 hours that Forsberg was going to be an Oiler.

jonathan w: point taken, I actually hadn't thought of him, but at least his teams have made the playoffs the past 3 years, unlike C-Bus (never) and Chicago (once in 7 years).

"Well guys, we missed out on Forsberg, so let's go with Plan B and trade for Mike Peca!" - Kevin Lowe

I've been in a rotten mood all day, but that eases my pain.

I think we would have been better off in retrospect to have kept Mike York, and rather that getting in a lather about someone with as much character and grit as Peca have gone after some pantywaists who can score goals like Seleane or Palfy. Right now we've got lots of grit, its the fancy smancy goal scorers that we need.

Matt, does Milbury escape because his team made the playoffs, or because he had a rare lucid moment when he unloaded Peca and his boat anchor of a salary?

Sacamano, the restricted free agent thing does smell of the old boys club at work. There was no reason for a team in need of a center not to throw a pile of change at Spezza, especially a team in its conference. Even if Ottawa matched, it would have screwed with Ottawa's already precarious medium term cap situation. With Hossa having to be traded, and Chara and Redden potentially on the market next summer, matching a 4 or 5 million offer for Spezza might have really set off the domino effect.

I'm more inclined to brood over how we're handling the front-end snipers we have--apparently Hemsky can't be persuaded to shoot the puck under any known circumstances, and of course there was that calculated decision to reduce Rob Schremp's cockiness by sending him down to dominate the OHL like Eddie Shore playing against a bunch of Midget B's (remind me how that was supposed to work?).

Right, exactly. Just as you say, I was expecting some "Salary Cap Attacks" of precisely the sort you describe.

It never happened. Weird.

I think the "old boys club" is a bit of it. But I think a lot of it was fear, tentativeness, and plain old habit. No one wanted to dramatically change the way they run their hockey business based on a CBA they hadn't even read in detail yet.

I think it will happen, starting this offseason. Teams will see RFAs they want on teams with cap vulnerability, and they'll move in.

I think I wrote this in Benjamin's comments, not here, but some GM is going to figure it out (whatever 'it' is) first, and gain some big advantage for 3-5 years, until half of the rest of the GMs figure it out too. (The other half will never figure it out.)

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