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"I Bleed Blue'N Copper"
Edmonton, AB • Canada • 30 Years Old • Male

Take A Chance...

Posted 3:46 PM ET | Comments 1
Is the lack of UFA signings by the Edmonton Oilers really due to Edmonton being a "Siberia" of the north or just good due dilligence by Kevin Lowe?

Unrestricted Free Agency is a fun time of the year, seeing if our team will "land the big one" but UFA signings have proven time and again to look a lot more sexy in July than when playoff time comes around the next season. Case in point would be the Pittsburgh Penguins loading up for Sidney Crosby's first season only to spectacularly combust during the same season.

The fact is that in a "new NHL" where budget concerns override everything but winning - and sometimes even then - is a UFA signing really something to be happy about? Who was the last significant free agent signing that REALLY helped out the team? I would argue Claude Lemieux signing with the Colorado Avalanche after winning a cup with New Jersey.....and then the Avalanche won the cup that year! Now, while Lemieux was great at this job, I'd put him on my team anyday, he cannot be considered a "premier UFA signing".

Another case in point would be this years LA Kings. After adding Brad Stuart, Ladislav Nagy, Tom Preissing, Michal Handzus, and Kyle Calder are they really contenders or merely pretenders...? All are re-clamation projects for one reason or another! Brad Stuart looked to be a desirable addition for playoff bound teams, but he didn't really help the Calgary Flames all that much. Stuart has great size and loves to use it, and higher-end skills on the back end, but still has yet to put it ALL together for a whole season and the playoffs. Ladislav Nagy is a pouty, high-maintenance enigma who has yet to prove his high end skills are worth putting up with over a long term deal, though it would be difficult to argue he IS talented. Tom Preissing appears to be the best signing of the lot, though somewhat undersized his game from the back-end appears tailored for the "new NHL". Michal Handzus is coming off a season-ending injury and while he's proven he can fill-in first line duties his game is more "reliable" than anything else, but even that comes with a question mark now. Kyle Calder had a year worth forgetting after being aquired by the Flyers in a deal, ironically for Handzus, and hopefully for the LA Kings maybe the two will find some chemistry together.

So after some memorable collapses after a "big UFA signing" what is the mysterious allure that remains? Well...... as the St. Louis Blues showed us last season at the trade deadline you can "rent-a-player" into quite a nice little return a la Bill Guerin and Keith Tkachuk (did anyone not see him re-signing with the Blues?)......or Peter Forsglass...who did show up for the playoffs...

So what keeps Kevin Lowe's hand back from "doing some deals"? Is Alexei Yashin truly that much of a risk at, say, 2.5 mil on a one year deal? With the Oilers expected to be locked in the basement as the copper-and-blue-haired stepchild for this coming season is adding a "name" player really such a bad idea? Even if the connotation is negative? What about Jason Allison? After a decent season with the Toronto Maple Leafs then sitting out (another) season with "personal issues" what's to prevent Lowe from picking up this "slow-footed" big-bodied centreman with proven high end finishing skills? Lowe was actually interested in Allison during the summer he signed with Toronto...so it's not like it would be THAT surprising. Even if Lowe was to parlay Yashin and Allison into trade deadline acquisitions, pre-supposing both had showcased their offensive talents, where's the harm to the Edmonton Oilers?

The Oilers have failed to sign any significant UFA talent for 3 summers straight since the lockout ENDED! They have failed to draft and develop any bonafide superstar talent that's NHL ready TODAY (Cogliano and Schremp may be ready for a big role 2008/09). So where's the harm in trying to boost a fine AHL roster by adding 2 tarnished stars both of who have something to prove and a chip on their shoulder about it???

If anything it'll give Edmonton Oilers fans something to talk about. Now......anybody seen Oleg Kvasha?
Filed Under:   Oilers  
July 14, 2007 3:45 PM ET | Delete
Realistically, even with a cap and the NHL CBA, there wont ever be a completely level playing field for teams, especially when it comes to signing players. There are always going to be places, cities, where a players will prefer to play over other places. Likely, there are several reasons why players would prefer one team over other teams, including the makeup of the team, its players and its management; the other players on the team of whom they'd prefer to play with; and the city or location of the city itself. Unfortunately, for the Oil, they let Smyth get away, and the direction of the team is surely in transistion if not in question. The location of Edmonton could be another issue, but the team needs to have a core of players and prove its moving in a direction which is attractive to UFAs and RFAs. I think that has a lot to do with it. The high salaries required to sign UFAs and/or the cost in salary and picks to sign RFAs reflects even more the importance of building teams through the draft and the farm system. The Oil has some good young prospects, and if Joni develops into the star defenseman of which his skills indicate he could become, then the future is bright for the Oil. The team may be actually better off going with a youth movement to develop its youth and taking a spot in the league's basement this coming season, and continuing to build through a strong draft next year. As bad as the Flyers season was last year, it was fun watching some of our kids develop, especially after we made those trades before the deadline and all the young talent we brought onto the team. IMO, Edmonton should not look to contend for the playoffs, but if they make it, thats great, but rather to build and develop a strong core of young talent from which they will be able to attract and sign veteran players who see the direction of the club and want to become a part of it in the future..... just my opinion.
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