Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Shape of Things To Come



With the absolutely necessary signing of Shawn Horcoff, the Oilers have cemented a couple issues. One: Lowetide changed his site's signature from 'Sign Sean Horcoff' to 'Horcoff Signed!'
Two: We can now predict with some small level of certainty what the team will look like for at least the next few years. And except for a couple of albatrosses, things look pretty good. Let's look at some roster projections barring any trades.

Let's look at the Oilers roster and ages as of 09-10

Penner(27) - Horcoff(31) - Hemsky(26)
Nilsson(24) - Gagner(20) - Cogliano (22)
Moreau(35) - Pouliot(24) - Pisani(33)
Stortini(24)

Visnovsky(33) - Souray(33)
Staios(36) - Gilbert(26)

The 10-11 season:

Penner(28) - Horcoff(32) - Hemsky(27)
Nilsson (25)
Moreau(36)
Stortini(25)

Visnovsky(34) - Souray(34)
Staios(37) - Gilbert(27)

The Core
Looking at this lineup, we can deduce a few upcoming moves and probably when they will happen. Most obvious here is that the Oilers have their core forward group locked up until at least the end of next season, and the guys they have invested a lot of chips in (Penner, Horcoff, Hemsky) through the 10-11 season.

Coming Attractions
The young guns (Gagner, Cogliano, Brodziak) are not immediate concerns but Lowe already needs to start planning his next group of long term contracts around these guys. They're bargains now but where is the cap space going to come when they need resigning. We could be looking at $4-$6 million dollar contracts at the higher end.

Old Grey Horse
The Oilers have invested a lot of chips into Visnovski and Souray who are both already at or past their prime years, unless of course they take the Nik Lidstrom course of action and just keep getting better and better. This means that as the forward group is nearing their prime the Oilers' top defenceman are leaving it. The timing is not good. Reading the tea leaves one of the two is out of town if the opportunity arises. Probably Souray.

Something Has To Give
The Oilers' defensive future isn't really signed. Tom Gilbert is certainly a part of it, no doubt, but given the ages of the other defenceman I think the Oilers have to bank something on Grebeshkov or someone else in that age range. Right or wrong, the defensive group is built for today and the forward group for tomorrow. Something has to give.

Dangerous Game
Where are the goalies? Good question. Deslauriers resigned and I would think he is being groomed to be the new backup while Rolie plays out the rest of his contract this season. Garon, meanwhile, is unsigned after 08-09. Obviously then, the Oiler's top priority between now and July 1 2009 is finding a number 1 goaltender. I would say the plan is to play Garon as the number 1 this season, judge how he reacts, and then resign him, although to believe Lowe isn't flying by the seat of his pants might be a misjudgement. Call this the 'Smyth Plan?'

Long Term Priority List:
Sign a number 1 goalie, Garon or otherwise
Trade or buyout Sheldon Souray
Don't escalate commitment into Penner or Souray if they aren't working out.

Thoughts?

2 comments:

Jonathan said...

The Oilers' defensive future isn't really signed. Tom Gilbert is certainly a part of it, no doubt, but given the ages of the other defenceman I think the Oilers have to bank something on Grebeshkov or someone else in that age range. Right or wrong, the defensive group is built for today and the forward group for tomorrow. Something has to give.


Aside from Grebeshkov, I have trouble seeing any of the young defensemen jumping into a top-four role next season; this group could be a little thin if he bolts back to Russia at the end of 2008-09.

therealdeal said...

Agreed. Smid would need a giant leap forward and Roy needs help just to get to top 7 consistently. Top four is probably going to be (in no particular order) Souray, Gilbert, Visnovsky, Grebeshkov. Staios is in the mix as always.