Sunday, July 06, 2008

You Have To Be Good To Be Lucky and Lucky To Be Good

The last two weeks have brought a lot of changes to the Edmonton Oilers. Jarrett Stoll and his concussed brain finally got sent out of town with the last 'tough guy' defenceman Matt Greene. We also saw the end of Raffi Torres the illegal alien. I thought all those guys brought something valuable to the team but at this point I think it was a case of too many bodies and lots of kids who Lowe figured would have a more likely chance of outperforming their contracts.

Maybe something Darryl Sutter should look into actually.

There's been a lot of lineup predictions bandied about, especially over at LT's, but it'll probably look something like this:

Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky
Cogliano - Gagner - Nilsson
Cole - Brodziak - Pisani
Moreau - Pouliot - Stortini

Gilbert - Grebeshkov
Staios - Souray
Visnovsky - Smid


It's a lineup that has a lot of depth in scoring (Penner, Cole, Horcoff, Hemsky), smarts (Horcoff, Pisani, Staios, Gilbert), and playmaking (Hemsky, Gagner, Visnovsky) but lacks physicality both up front and on defence. Still, it's one of the better lineups the Oilers have had in a long time and I'm certainly excited about the Oil's prospects this season.

I think Kevin Lowe certainly deserves a lot of credit for the lineup we'll see on opening night. He's been part of the procurement of pretty much every player on the roster. I think the little outburst against Burke the other night was long overdue, but there was one comment that I just think Lowe was at least partly off-base on.

"I stand by my offer sheets... Thomas Vanek is going to be a 35+ goal scorer for the rest of his contract… Dustin Penner is going to be a 20+ goal scorer for the rest of his contract."

Now, whether Vanek stays a 35 goal scorer or not, I still think that was a bad offer sheet. $10 million signing of a guy who really only had one good season playing behind Daniel Briere and Chris Drury is a little ridiculous, and four first round picks would have absolutely crippled this franchise for years to come, especially when one realizes just how important 1st round picks are.

The only person who made a dumber move than Kevin Lowe that day was Darcy Regier when he decided to match. I would have taken those draft picks and laughed all the way to the bank.

But that's not the only time Lowe has been rebuffed on a dumb move.

I guess we can go back to last summer to the Nylander fiasco to find one of Lowe's earlier strokes of luck. After declining to sign Ryan Smyth at $5.5 million Kevin Lowe decided Michael Nylander would be a much better fit on the team. Reasons cited included Smyth's age and proneness to injury but of course all those after the fact justifications are bullshit and the real reason Smyth was traded was probably due to incompetence.

I know a lot of Oilers fans and bloggers were excited about the prospect of signing Hossa, and certainly the idea intrigued me. However, I just couldn't get my head around the terms of the offer. First of all, if I had $9 million to throw around I wouldn't throw it at Hossa, especially not for 9 years. IMO he's not quite the calibre of player needed to justify those numbers, even if he is very very good. A contract like that is a lifetime contract and you best be sure you want that player to be the face of your franchise.

It's also not so much what Hossa doesn't bring to the table because he is a great player, it's more about what the Oilers would have to give up. At some point Roloson and Souray and Penner are coming off the books but it looks like they're here to stay for a while and the Oilers will need to resign Cole, Horcoff, Garon and Grebeshkov(RFA, but still) at the end of the year (off the top of my head). For my money I'd rather lose Hossa but keep those three guys, and I'm not convinced you could do both. Hell, as of the day the Oilers were in the bidding war for Hossa they still needed to free up some space, and if that's Souray or maybe Roloson then fine, but I don't see it happening.

So for the grace of god the Oilers have a pretty nice looking lineup, possibly even for a few seasons to come, but it could have gone the other direction very easily.


Jonathan said...

You called it- luck has certainly played a pretty big role in this team being what it is today. That said, Lowe's done a reasonable job recovering from the brutal off-season nosedive two years ago.

therealdeal said...

He's certainly done a lot more good lately than bad IMO.