Friday, November 24, 2006

 

Oilers Game Day-Blackhawks

Record: 7-11-2Record: 12-8-1
Preview


• The Blackhawks leading goal-scorer is Martin Havlat, with 7. He went on the Injured Reserve list on October 21st. Imagine Ethan Moreau as our leading scorer right now, and you get an idea of how rough a year it's been for the Hawks. Everything bad that could happen, has happened. Havlat is still out, Michael Handzus is gone at least until March, if not all year. Nikolai Khabibulin just got back after breaking his finger. Rene Bourque took a skate across the neck, Clint Malarchuk style. Just a brutal year for the Hawks, which is too bad. They got off to a pretty solid start, going 7-1 in the pre-season, and 4-2 to start off the year. Havlat was on fire (13 points). Then, within about a week, the wheels fell off.

• Considering the year, and how Bill Wirtz has run this once glorious Original Six franchise into the ground, attendance in Chicago hasn't been too bad. The attendance mark has dropped below 12,000 for only two of their home games. It's not great, mind you, as the United Center holds 20,500 for hockey, but I would have thought it would be much worse.



Concerning the Oilers, there are two questions floating around the city and the Oilogosphere right now, with a bunch of subsequents.

1) Will Kevin Lowe pick up a defenceman?
• How much cap room does Lowe have?
• Who would Lowe and the coaching staff want?
• Is that player available?
• What else would it cost the Oilers?

I really have no idea if Lowe will pick up a defenceman. There has been alot of clamour about it in the Edmonton Journal, and both Dennis and LT think it is an absolute necessity. I lean more towards what Tyler has recently noted, which is that "you can't have everything and a good goalie will cover a lot of faults." I agree, and still hold that we are better off today with Roli and our defensive pairings than we were a year ago with Conkannen and the defensive pairings (which did not yet include Spacek and Tarnstrom).

Obviously, everybody would love to have a premier defenceman, someone who can play well in their own zone, play a solid transition game, and contribute on the powerplay. I am sure Lowe is no exception. But the fact that it is a universal desire amongst GMs raises the cost, as well as the competition for available talent. Looking at up-to-date cap estimates from Irish Blues, you can see that the Oilers do have room for a player addition. I've isolated their current cap estimate in the table below:

Estimated Payroll Room, November 23, 2006
Salary To DateAllowable InsuranceInjurt AllowanceBonusesNet SavingsRemaining SalaryMax Inj AllowanceProjected FinalPayroll Room
10,698,025
11,764,706
NA
120,833
1,066,681
28,627,017
NA
39,325,042
4,795,791

*Jacques and Thoresen considered for bonuses. Moreau not considered for injury exemption.

$4.8 million is ample room, especially since there might be more if a player on the current roster is moved elsewhere in a deal. So I don't think there is a problem in that regard. Obviously, the team the Oilers dealt with would also have to have room to take on any returning salary.

As for who is available, the Edmonton Journal keeps throwing the following names out for fodder: Brad Stuart, Lubomir Visnovsky, Mike Van Ryn, Eric Brewer and Dan Boyle. I would imagine the Oilers had someone watching Brent Seabrook Wednesday night in Calgary, and will be watching him again tonight. The Journal names likely indicate who is available, but as of yet they haven't said anything about what teams would want in return, or if any team is even interested in what we may be offering. Fans in Edmonton keep throwing out the names Bergeron, Torres, Schremp, Winchester, Pouliot and others as trade bait. The problem, however, is that the names fans and throw out probably won't align with what opposing GMs are asking for. The fact that we don't care if we lose them probably means opposing teams don't really care to acquire them. I mean, I'd trade Marc-Andre Bergeron and a draft pick for Jay Bouwmeester, or most of the guys listed above (Brewer excluded. I want nothing to do with him), but I'm sceptical about whether that is really going to happen. Of course, sometimes opposing teams don't care what they get back, as they just want to free up some salary room or get rid of a locker room cancer. The point is, right now, no one knows a thing about what is really out on the market, or what the Oilers have put on the table, except for Lowe and his staff. We can keep speculating in the hopes that dreams can come true, and I encourage it (there is a spreadsheet at the bottom of IB's page that will show you how much a player has counted towards the cap already this year. I'd suggest starting there), but right now that is all it is: wishful thinking.

2) When will Kevin Lowe sign Ryan Smyth?
• Will the Oilers be able to afford him?

As Tyler noted here, based on an interview here, Ryan Smyth sounds pretty choked about not having a new deal done. I don't know if the frustration is fair, as it isn't like Lowe and the rest of management have been sitting around doing nothing. But after seeing Steve Staios sign for $10.8 million, the first thing that popped into my mind is, "can we afford Smytty now?" So I thought I'd take a look.

Below is a shot of the Oilers cap payroll for the next several years, all taken from Irish Blues. You'll have to click on it to get a real good view.

(click image to enlarge)


The Oilers total cap payroll (not including bonuses) for the next few years look like this:

06/07 Cap Numbers:52,275,800.0

07/08 Cap Numbers: 39,769,133

08/09 Cap Numbers: 27,205,567

09/10 Cap Numbers: 11,300,000.0

All these numbers are based on all the players who are signed, not on who are playing, or will play.

Assuming the cap doesn't drop below $44 million next year, I think the Oilers have to strike a deal with Smyth around an average of $4-$5.5 million a year. Of course, if the cap goes up, and the EIG decides to increase payroll, then that number can go up. It also depends on which of the signed players actually makes the roster next year. The $4-$5.5 million number puts Smyth close or higher to what Ales Hemsky averages. Frankly, I think Smyth should be happy with that, and I think Lowe and the EIG will create a deal around that average, but I'm not Smyth. On the one hand Hemsky is much younger than Smyth and will surely contribute more in the long-term. On the other, Smyth has given tons back to his team and his community, bleeds Copper and Blue, and is an early candidate for the Hart Trophy this season (at least in my mind), never mind the fact that people in this city would freak if he was to go elsewhere. But that amount may also prevent the Oilers from re-signing any of their other UFA's next season (Sykora, Tjarnqvist, Hejda, Markannen, Petersen & possibly Winchester), and might hoop them on some RFA's as well (not even including the fact they couldn't bring anybody in). Of course, like I said before, if the cap goes up, if some kids don't make the roster, or trades are made this season, more room is available.

I may be looking at this all wrong, but on second-thought I don't understand why Lowe would leave his biggest salary negotiation until the end. Maybe Smyth is right to be angry, because it does seem to indicate that he may not be a big priority with the organization. If he was, wouldn't they make sure to lock him up first, so that they wouldn't lose him because of cap restrictions? I think this deal will get done, but either a) the Oilers are planning future budgets on cap increases that have yet to be secured or b) there is going to have to be some juggling if Lowe doesn't want to be stuck with very little cap room next year.

Prediction: 5-2, Oilers. Thoresen, Horcoff, Sykora, Smytty and Lupul. No deal on a defenceman any time soon, and Smytty signs to a three-year deal by the All-Star break.

Comments:

I hope the Oil pull through tonight, and Phx pulls a fast one over the Wild - just so that at least once this season, our boys will be sitting above 7th in the conf.
 


I think re: question 1 Lowe holds off as long as he can. If this team is in first after 40 games as well then he's gotten Smid and Greene another 20 games of good icetime for their development and saved more money.

I think most guys who are potential ufas can be had for reasonable return - ie/marginal prospects/picks - if the Oilers try and pry a Seabrook type (does he shoot right - if so he doesn't make sense imo) then it will cost them a top end prospect plus or a good young roster player - so it goes.

As for Smyth I think he will get signed - by my numbers if Torres signs for two and Greene and Winchester sign for 1 each as rfas then with Smyth at 5 we're looking at nearly 42M. Sykora would be gone and I think he is anyway. Tjarnqvist too. And that would leave us with a barebones D, same as this year. But I think one of Stoll, Torres or Lupul gets moved too, maybe for a young Dman.

Anyhow Smyth is grumbling a bit but if they make him a good offer he will stay. I'm thinking it will be four years though, not three.
 


What you were saying about deals and opposing GMs probably holds true for Ryan Smyth and Kevin Lowe's contract negotiations. 3 years at 4-4.5 mil sounds fair to us, which probably means Kevin Lowe has already offered it and been rejected by Meehan. I suspect Smyth is holding out for 4 years averaging around 4.9-5.0 million. He'll still get signed though.
 


Darcy Tucker as Smytty replacement. Discuss.

I can hear the howls of protest already, but if you take out Tucker's predilection for the odd dirty hit [and temporarily disengage the anti-Leaf filter] they're very similar players in my mind. Willing to take punishment, and great hands within 5 feet of the net. Plus their teammates seem to want to go to war with them. Both good alberta boys too.

Course, Tucker probably wants that same kind of money anyway, if not more. He's on pace for 50 goals. Even if he slows up, he'll get 30. Maybe 40. How much is that worth nowadays?
 


On the topic of the game, apparently Staios is out for tonight because he tweaked his knee. And MacTavish ripped Bergeron in practice, following him across the ice swearing a blue streak at him. (that's right from TSN's Ice Chips). Yikes. I guess we aren't the only ones getting tired of MAB.
 


pete - as a T.O. resident who sees a lot of Tucker, he's a good player for sure. Dynamite on the PP.

Not in Smyth's class though, imo. Doesn't kill penalties. OK defensively but again not as good as Smytty.

He's a hardnosed guy and he's cut down on the Sideshow Bob schtick the past two years but if all things are equal I would take Smyth, even if it meant paying more.
 


MAB has got to go. He lost all his confidence in the playoffs last year.

Smyth will get his deal done. Remember last time that Lowe used the papers to ensure that it was known that Ryan got compensated quite richly for his services. I think we can keep Sykora too.
 


There has been alot of clamour about it in the Edmonton Journal, and both Dennis and LT think it is an absolute necessity.

Can we call for a moratorium on referring to people as LT?

There should only be one LT: Lawrence Taylor.

LaDainian Tomlinson and LoweTide should have to find new nicknames/abbreviations.
 


I think the Oilers have to strike a deal with Smyth around an average of $4-$5.5 million a year.

Thats an uncomfortably large range. And probably the reason Smyth remains unsigned.
 


Can we call for a moratorium on referring to people as LT?

There should only be one LT: Lawrence Taylor.

LaDainian Tomlinson and LoweTide should have to find new nicknames/abbreviations.


I agree, and as a long time Chargers fan, most of us refer to Tomlinson as 'LDT'...

I'm not sure why Andy insists on shortening a name that already appears short enough...
 


Unless of course Andy actually is getting Lawrence Taylor's opinion on the matter...

To which I would be very impressed...
 


Who's Lawrence Taylor? Does he play for the Flames or the Oilers? I'm Confused. Think I'll head over to LT's blog and see if he knows.
 


Like everything you've written, but I don't see any way in Hell that Chicago parts with Seabrook... he's been terrific for them and I highly doubt they'll purge any youth at this point.
 


On the topic of the game, apparently Staios is out for tonight because he tweaked his knee.

I forgot to mention this. It was part of my impetus for writing what I did.

don't see any way in Hell that Chicago parts with Seabrook

They might if they got talented youth back in return, but I agree with you.
 


Jeez Grabby... I told you yesterday morning about Staios's injury.

I expect my tips to receive prominent play on BoA next time!
 


I expect my tips to receive prominent play on BoA next time!

In a sense, it did, as it was part of the reason I rushed out a post on acquiring a d-man. I just forgot to, you know, mention the connection. I did the post at about 5 this morning, if that makes it any better.
 


I did the post at about 5 this morning, if that makes it any better.

You spent 4 hours writing this? You should be getting paid. Fire the donation meter back up.
 


You spent 4 hours writing this?

No. When I wrote it and when I posted it are two different things. But yes, I should get paid.
 


Short of a donation, the least we can do is vote (daily): Round 2 is open, and BoA has advanced, along with Mirtle. Congrats to both. Here's hoping a hockey blog can snag this.

- Rod
 


Bergeron and a pick for Bowmeester? Thousands of listeners to every radio call-in show John Short has every hosted wholeheartedly agree.
 


Bergeron and a pick for Bowmeester? Thousands of listeners to every radio call-in show John Short has every hosted wholeheartedly agree.

Exactly. Which is why it will never happen.
 


Is John Short still doing radio in Edmonton? Jeez he was older than dirt 20 years ago! Doesn't he call Brian Hall, 'Jr' ?
 

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