Wednesday, November 29, 2006

 

Nero Lowe: still ignoring those minor flare-ups

Lowetide:
Oilers have both Steve Staios and Marc-Andre Bergeron out of the lineup for this evening's tilt with Anaheim. This means the Oilers 6 Dmen will be Jason Smith, Daniel Tjarnqvist, Ladislav Smid, Jan Hejda, Matt Greene and Syvret. [Ed. - The ill MAB did dress, not Syvret, but played only 6:01.]

I'm a big time supporter of Kevin Lowe but this is shameful.

Ray Ferraro:
On the difference between last year's Oil and this squad: "Their defense is nowhere near as mobile or efficient with the puck, and that makes their forwards not as effective as they should be. They rarely get a clean, direct pass. They always seem to take a pass swung around and along the boards. So, I would say, in general, the team is not as good. But there is no chance this defense is going to be the group that they go forward with and I don't think they will wait until trade deadline time. If a puck-mover becomes available, I think they are interested."

On what he misses most about Chris Pronger: "Aside from his puck moving and power-play poise, the 28 minutes a game he plays allows everyone else to slow down to where they are most comfortable and most effective. Asking Jason Smith and Steve Staios to play heavy minutes is too much. So, you lose Pronger's 27 minutes, and they're kind of being replaced by Daniel Tjarnqvist, and there of course is no comparison."

I could go on, but won't. In fairness, there's hardly a team in the NHL that doesn't need (or at least could really use) a solid, 2-way defenseman who can move the puck and play 24 minutes a night. Same goes with more experienced, capable depth on the blue line. Same goes with a D-man who can play the point (productively) on the blue line.

But surely, today of all days, it's appropriate to note that Kevin Lowe is the only GM in the league who has recently had sufficiently valuable trade bait with which to acquire such assets. He failed to do so, and unlike many of his supporters, I don't see how what can be acquired nearer the trade deadline for Stoll or Schremp or 1st-round picks will be a better deal than the opportunity already missed.

Isn't the Oilers' time now? Do they really want to jack around near the playoff bubble again? (I know MacT doesn't know it any other way, but jeez...) I find the lack of urgency and the lack of high expectations from just about every corner of Oiler-land to be baffling.

The Oilers have had a pretty good early season, but they have a glaring weakness (they're 14th in Shots Against/gm right now, last year they were 1st). The "Let's Wait And See Just How Bad Things Are, and/or if The Price-to-Correct Goes Down" approach seems... dubious, and it has since July 3rd.

Comments:

It seems to me that all NHL teams are really good at over pricing any player who fill a need. Examples, Oilers get Spacek and Tarnstrom for nothing because the Oilers weren't thought to need more 4-6 defencemen and because the Oilers had to get rid of Pronger and the Ducks didn't really need him, they gave up a useless forward, a prospect D and some picks. On the other hand, the Oilers now need some D and suddenly Ken Klee is worth Symth and a 1st round pick(and the Oilers have to pay delivery from the morgue).
 


Matt, if I had the Conkannens in net I'd make sure that I was #1 in shots against, too. It's all that kept the Oil alive last year.

akoilerfan47 is also correct: the market for puck-moving d-men was stupid this year. You cannot win--in hockey, business, or life--by playing the same game as everyone else. Lowe made the bet by loading up on scoring. So far, it's worked out well enough to keep the team in contention.

Now, the task is to pick up defensive help as it becomes available from teams who are giving up and need to dump salary. It's far, far, too early to judge this. Based on his past performance, I'm nowhere near the panic button yet.
 


"I don't see how what can be acquired nearer the trade deadline for Stoll or Schremp or 1st-round picks will be a better deal than the opportunity already missed."

You don't see how it becomes easier to trade for rental players as the deadline gets closer?
 


Lowe made the bet by loading up on scoring. So far, it's worked out well enough to keep the team in contention.

The Oilers are third in Goals For IN THE DIVISION. The Oilers are presently using their speed to play okay team defense and getting better goaltending from Roli. But Ray's point is that Edmonton has to get a better defenseman for offense. An offensive defenseman leverages the Oil's forward depth to a much larger degree than adding more conventional 'scoring'.
 


You don't see how it becomes easier to trade for rental players as the deadline gets closer?

Yeah this is inexplicable to me too. Isn't it obvious? As the trade deadline approaches, St. Louis, Columbus, Chicago, Phoenix (loaded with defencemen), LA (loaded with defencemen) are all going to take a look and go "Christ, we're 20 points out of the playoffs. We can either a) pay these guys or b) not pay them and get something for them."

What the fuck Andy?
 


MC,

Matt wrote it, so more like:

"What the fuck Matt?"
 


Even guys like Forsberg who are coming up as UFAs are going to be getting moved... and there are a lot of them this year.
 


What the fuck Andy?

Huh? I didn't write a damn thing. It's Matt, fan of the barely .500 Flames, telling the Oilers what they should do.
 


Sorry, when it's crazy shit about the Oilers on here, my instinct is to write "What the fuck Andy?"

I'll amend it to "What the fuck Matt?"

I'll also add a gratuitous shot at the Flames: Just because Darryl Sutter was somehow unable to recognize/fix his team's problems at the deadline last year doesn't mean that it's harder to fix things then than it is now.
 


Sorry, when it's crazy shit about the Oilers on here, my instinct is to write "What the fuck Andy?"

Your kind words soothe my aching heart.
 


Ahem. I'm quite aware of the trade deadline, and that it's "easier" to acquire a player at that point in time. But is it really that assured that it'll be cheap? Tyler makes it sound like the bad teams just start giving guys away near the deadline, and that's just not the case.

Sure, the Oil picked up a very useful player like Spacek in exchange for a prospect they'd already given up on; but they also gave up a prospect and a draft pick to upgrade from Reasoner to Samsonov for 6 weeks + playoffs.

But back to the point, why? I comprehend the concept of WAIT, but it seems to me that to believe this is the optimal strategy, you pretty much have to believe ALL OF:
a) the present D situation won't threaten the Oilers' ability to make the playoffs (and win the Div, home-ice, etc. if that matters to you)
b) possible deals this past summer and/or right now weren't that good (bad value)
c) deals closer to the deadline will be good value

ABC are each more likely true than false on their own, but as a whole?
 


Dang, I meant to put the "upgrade" in "upgrade from Reasoner to Samsonov" in scoff-quotes.
 


the present D situation won't threaten the Oilers' ability to make the playoffs (and win the Div, home-ice, etc. if that matters to you)

Well, considering they are 1st in the NW, and 3rd in the West right now, despite losing a point to Dallas and a point last night, I fail to see how the present D situation is doing much damage. Despite all the eye-gouging, and I'm aware that I do it often, the Oilers are doing pretty damn good. And they haven't even played their best hockey yet.
 


Tyler makes it sound like the bad teams just start giving guys away near the deadline, and that's just not the case.

Are you kidding? Tony Salmelainen, who can't fucking play for the Blackhawks is the hockey equivalent of one those contracts where there's good and valuable consideration of one dollar.

As for Samsonov, while I won't argue too much on his merits as an upgrade over Reasoner (I would have preferred to have Reasoner for Rounds 1 and 2 at least), saying a prospect and a draft pick makes it sound a lot more impressive that saying "A 23 year old Yan Stastny who has yet to make an impact and a mid round pick in a bad year that turned out to be a forward who scored 9 goals in his draft year." That ain't nothing but it's not much more.

Does it mean that this will be available every year? No, not necessarily. That said, what the Oilers needed - guys who could play top 4 minutes weren't available without 4 or 5 year deals at $4MM or $5MM per in the offseason. The market for sellers of talent almost has to be lighter this year of all years, given the lunacy that went on with teams singing defencemen in the offseason.

This is a good idea for a post of my own, so I'll cut it off but persaonlly, I think Lowe's move was the obvious play.
 


The great tragedy in all of this is that we are taking what a Flames fan says about what the Oilers need at face value. Having Phanuef and Regehr has gotten the Flames, what, 4 less points than us?
 


Obviously the Oilers want a puck-moving defenceman, but I think your whole 'get it done' mentality is way off base. The Oilers already got screwed once because they had to force the Pronger deal through on short notice. It wouldn't make any sense to push a deal through that doesnt maximize the Oilers benefits.

In short: whomever Lowe is looking at right now is too pricey or not available at all (and of course, not available at all means too pricey.) To be brutally honest, I haven't heard of even a rumoured deal that would provide an upgrade to the Oilers.
 


I have to admit that not picking up Danny Markov might have been a mistake. He's starting to look like a bargain for the Wings at $2.5M, plus it seems kind of unlikely that Chopper would have destroyed his shoulder trying to punch out his own teammate.
 


We are assuming that an offer wasn't made, though. Who the hell knows what Lowe offered, and to who. Maybe he offered $2.5 to Markov, and he just chose to sign with Detroit.
 


Well, fine, but by that standard of agnosticism it's impossible to judge a GM at all. (And I still say he should have offered a half-mil in Gold Pieces for Markov's +5 Helm of Shoulder-Exploding.)
 


Well, fine, but by that standard of agnosticism it's impossible to judge a GM at all.

25 games in, with the team in 1st place, I would say that's a wise move. "Hey Kev, I know you are in 1st place, but why haven't you made a trade so your team is in 1st 1st place?"
 


Tyler, we obviously have some disagreement about the dynamics of deadline-ish trading, and like you say a more detailed analysis would probably be appropriate. On the one hand, you have also-ran teams eager to get SOME value for impending UFAs and the fact that the Acquiring Team pays a smaller chunk of salary; on the other, the demand may be higher and again it's (mostly) only impending UFAs who are in play. And this isn't to mention the ease (or difficulty) of integrating a new player late in the season -- adding a PPQB or Goalie intuitively seems like an easier task than adding a guy to send out with Smith against Thornton or Modano.

All that said though (and I guess I didn't do a great job of emphasizing this in the main post), the real indictment against Lowe is failing to get a serious defenseman in return for Pronger, not his inactivity since then. Much like me repeated comments about the insanity of starting Kipper 77 times this season, leaning so much on Smith and Staios early in the season (and for the foreseeable future) is Playing With Fire.
 


the real indictment against Lowe is failing to get a serious defenseman in return for Pronger, not his inactivity since then.

I think that's the real indictment against Pronger. His public demand of a trade, through his agent, screwed Lowe. GM's could hold out, because they knew Lowe had to deal. I don't think he could make Pronger sit and wait like he did with Comrie. Plus, I don't think the deal was that bad, considering what he got back and what the extra money has allowed him to do.

Again, first place. And again, Flames fan.
 


Heh. Lowe had a (minimum) Top 5 NHL defenseman who can do it all, locked up for 4 more years at what was already a below-market contract -- but his hands were tied! Jim Matheson would be proud, Andy.
 


Lowe had a (minimum) Top 5 NHL defenseman who can do it all, locked up for 4 more years at what was already a below-market contract -- but his hands were tied.

Okay, well you tell me what he should have done, then. First off, tell me who he wanted, tell me who he talked to, and tell me what was offered. Tell me what he tried to do, and see how it matches up with what he should have done. I'm dying to hear this one. We'll see who sounds like Jim Matheson.
 


Actually, let's just wait, and Matty will tell us himself.

After Staios or Smith suffers a longer-term injury, Smid (further?) proves that he's not ready to play 25+ minutes a night, the PP goes to shit with Hemsky out, and Roli's numbers slide back closer to the middle, I'm sure we'll see an illuminating column from the Hall-of-Famer about who he *really* had his eye on (but, hands tied, etc.).
 


Again, first place...

Fair dues to the Oilers (as Andy pointed out, they haven't even played their best yet but they're still in first place) but this we're-in-first-ergo-the-GM-was-retroactively-right argument seems a tad weak, since, you know, "first place" is a synonym for "four points out of the basement" in the NW.

Just my $0.02.
 


we're-in-first-ergo-the-GM-was-retroactively-right argument seems a tad weak, since, you know, "first place" is a synonym for "four points out of the basement" in the NW.

It's as weak as the "say the GM is doing nothing when you really don't know what he's tried doing" argument, which is my whole point. Matt's just trying to stir the pot, and I'm calling bullshit. Activity and visible results aren't the same thing. Matt can't tell me who Lowe wanted, who he talked to, who was offered, and what was turned down, so he can't sit there and tell me Lowe didn't get the best return for Pronger available. Nor can he tell me that Lowe has been inactive since then. He can't tell me Lowe hasn't been on the phone since the season started trying to get a defenceman. So the whole thing is bunk. He can say the Oilers need a defenceman, although I'd argue against that, too. But he, and others, can't logically judge Lowe for not trying to get a defenceman.
 


My problem with Lowe is not that he hasn't make a move yet, but that his 'differential strategy' of going with an offensive team when arguably you could say that the division is trending defensive (maybe with the exception of P. Demitra) is not offensive enough for the strategy to prove effective long enough for the Oilers to credit from the decision. Again, I think Roli is good enough and the defense is probably good enough, (but not deep enough) IF the Oilers can roll four and get balanced scoring: they haven't really done that yet. So...Lowe has to either retool lines 3&4 to get them going or get a puck moving defenceman who can improve the effeciency of the existing forwards.
 


Cynical Joe: I think you've interpreted the strategy incorrectly. The strategy was to invest the team's assets in forwards vs. defensemen. I assume this was done simply because the market for dmen was overinflated. I don't think it was ever intended to be more offense vs. defense. the idea that the Oilers were going to score 5-6 goals a night while giving up four was merely a creation of the Oilers' propaganda machine and the local media. (Redundant? Probably.)

Good forwards contribute to keeping the puck out of your net by keeping it in the other team's zone. I'm not convinced that this was not the right strategy at this point.
 


Pining for Danny Markov? He was on IR five different times last season. He's playing for a DET team that is one Hasek groin tweak away from falling behind STL in their division. If the Oilers want a young veteran they should consider Jim Vandermeer in CHI, where a FW prospect would be a welcome addition. He'd take a lot of heat off the Captain and Staios.
 


I will shamelessly mention that I was all over a Danny Markov signing in the offseason. I decided upon that after crunching some of his numbers (IIRC, as an example he had a pretty damn good minor penalties/hr rate) and looking at how Trotz used his defense in Nashville last year against the Ducks and Sharks. Markov was one of their tough minutes guys by a long stretch.
 


The strategy was to invest the team's assets in forwards vs. defensemen.

A couple of things: The contract decisions on those 'assets' look, if not disasterous, then at least underwhelming; Pisani, Lupul, Horcoff are perking along at 35-45 pts per. And you say the market for Dmen was inflated! The two guys that are hauling the load, Smyth and Sykora are going to be free agents and cap-room is getting tight. Stoll is going to want at least Horcoff money, so one of them is probably going to have to go. And as far as investing in forwards vs defenseman the Staios signing is very odd. Either the amount or the length of the contract seems strangely incongruent with his production, I know, I know, tough minutes and all that, but you think that money might have gone to a better FA defenseman who is a)younger and b)more productive
 

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