So everyone seems to be getting over the fact that Kevin Lowe has broken the “unwritten rule” regarding RFA’s and now it’s more of an issue about the dollar amount of the contract. Now I know that as sports fans we are all, especially the professional sports writers, experts in economics. At least it sure seems that way lately? With the salary cap we have a ceiling that all teams are forced to stay within, overpaying for one player over another is not going to magically escalate salaries as everyone still has to work with a single confined total. Teams will continue to pay for the specific needs for their teams, even if they over pay. The cap will keep things in check, take a look at the unclaimed UFA’s currently available compared to the long term contracts paid to younger talent. In the past we would not have seen the number of UFA’s available that we are seeing today. To make a blanket claim that the Penner deal will drive salaries through the roof is as irresponsible as Kevin Lowe signing him in the first place. The pie can only sliced into so many pieces. Its time to move on -
Anyways my personal thought is that this is the beginning of the shift from overpaying for old UFA’s (we’ll call this the “Leaf’s Model) versus the building with youth model. Is Dustin Penner (the new Poster Boy for overpaid young players) worth 4.25 million – Absolutely NO. Don’t get me wrong, I’m tickled orange and blue about the Oil getting him, but 4.25 million is high. I know he wanted to be in the bracket that would provide sufficient compensation to make the deal attractive to Burke, but the optics of a 3.25 mil contract would be a lot easier to swallow than 4.25 mil. Can the Oilers afford 4.25 mil – probably, they aren’t as poor and hard done by as the media likes to make them out to be.
Now in Kevin Lowe’s mind 4.25 might seem fine. He didn’t loose a roster player to get him and at the current rate years 3 through 5 may seem like a steal. But I’m pretty sure Penner’s agent would have jumped at anything over 2.8 mil. We have to assume Lowe had Burkes budget down to the penny and knew exactly what dollar value he needed to secure Penner, at the end of the day Kevin Lowe wanted Dustin Penner and this will become the new fact of the NHL its all about asset and money management, if you have a hole in your team only you know the value to fill that hole and to Kevin Lowe Penner was worth 4.25 million.
As a side note I find it really funny that everyone is claiming shock that the Oilers were going after Penner, everybody in the NHL knew after the Vanek deal fell through who the Oilers had on their radar and Penner was #1. The day after the Vanek deal Burke went public saying he would match anything the Oilers through at Penner so stay away. Yet he claims shock and surprise when the Oilers did go after him. Anyways that’s a different topic for another day – Brian Burke.
For the past decade we have seen an endless stream of older players cashing in with mixed results. Teemu Selanne definetly panned out for the Ducks the past 2 years. But for every Teemu leading his team in scoring there are a dozen other older big money UFA’s that have tanked.
At the end of the day Is the Penner deal really any worse than 4 mil for Tkachuk, 6mil for Kariya, 4.5mil for Guerin, 7mil for Jovanoski, 7.15mil for McCabe, Gomez, Briere, etc. Who knows but to the Oilers and their immediate needs he was.
Its an interesting issue that will be followed closely.
I’d like to discuss the whole no one wants to play in Edmonton thing out in the next article. Tim Panaccio and Andy Stricklands comments are irritating only because they seem to echoing the same media garbage that’s based on bad info. Maybe the two of them can do a little research on exactly how many UFA’s signed this summer and how many teams signed no one.