Many people around hockeybuzz who talk about a rebuild don't look far enough into the future to project what a team will look like when a rebuild is complete and said team is actually a contender. A lot of people including our very oilers blogger Richard Cloutier often project the entire roster in 3 years time to be made up of all current oilers or prospects but if you look at all of the last few stanley cup winners (Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit) i do agree that there is a core group of drafted and developed players but not the entire team.
Chicago has only Kane, Toews, Keith, Seabrook, Bolland and the departed Byfuglien as drafted players in the core
Pittsburgh had Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Fleury, and Letang as real core guys
Detroit had Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, as the youth and then a lot of aged veterans like Lidstrom
What i am trying to get at is what Oiler management needs to do is identify who are the real young core players of which to build around, who are the lofty veterans who could provide the always necessary "role" player position and most importantly who is expendable whether by trade or by letting there contract run out.
Also with this comes the most difficult part and that is what will contract and cap situation be like when the time comes. So what i will do now is determine what I think the oilers lineup will look like in 3 years time when they could be so called contenders, projected point totals, and what the team contract situation may look like. (Of course, i will say this now, all this will depend on how the players play in the next 3 years and these are only estimates)
Here there could be one of 2 options on the top line and that is if somehow Taylor Hall is shifted to center would be one and if he stays at wing is another
Taylor Hall - 6 million (project 75 points in 3rd season) 80 pt
Magnus Paajarvi - 5.5 million (project 70 points in third season) 80 pt
Jordan Eberle - 4.5 million (project 60 points in 3rd season) 65 pt
Dustin Penner/other - 4 million (only if he can come cheap does he stay) 55 pt
Ales Hemsky/other - 5 million (Again only if he comes cheap does he stay) 65 pt
Shawn Horcoff - 5.5 million (unfortunate contract but a solid 2nd/3rd line center) 55 pt
-Ales Hemsky and Penner could be moveable assets if they cannot come at a discount as the three young guns are clearly the core 3. They could be moved as part of a package to get a center here or they could be used to get a top tier defenseman. Also there is no Gagner who I think will produce but prove to be a moveable asset to obtain a solid defenseman or in a package for an elite player. As well Horcoff could be in the bottom 6 but if he bounces back incredibly he could be the second line center
This is clearly the area where most of uncertainty is and that is how i will see it as well
Veteran center - 2.5 million 30 pt
Gilbert Brule - 2.5 million (if he comes this cheap) 40 pt
Tyler Pitlick - 1 million "Entry Level" 30 pt
3 more unknowns likely at an average of 1.25 million for each avg. 15 pt
If Horcoff can be moved by this time you probably do it unless he turns into a consistent 60 point player because then this may be the guy Gary Bettman calls to hoist the cup. Also it is unlikely any of the current plugs we have in the bottom six will stay but who knows. Also i could see one of the third line spots being held by Vande Velde or Omark if he has some defensive ability and it could also l make Brule expendable (I see Brule as the better choice) but i more see him as a moveable piece.
Gilbert - 4 million 45 pt
Whitney - 4 million 50 pt
Marincin - 1 million entry level 25 pt
Petry/2011 First Round pick - 2 million 30 pt
Elite Defensman - 6 million (acquired through trade or free agency) 55 pt
Veteran leader - 2 million 15 pt
Defense is an iffy spot and it could be the soft spot but the scoring should make up for it. If Petry does not fit in and the Oil draft a good defensman next year i could see him gone to get that elite guy.
Starter - 5 million
Backup .75 million
Goaltending is a serious issue and has the ability to be solved if Olivier Roy is the guy of the future in which case he would come at much cheaper than 5 million in 3 years and could turn into a Niemi type goalie in which case he would need a raise come another year or two. The way I see it now is Khabs will be traded down the road or retire and we will sign a solid veteran for 2 to 3 years that can get us through and then some random backup.
Projected Cap 65 million (if increases continue)
Projected spending 65 million
As you can see this team has spent to the limit reasonably but if one of the young guns exceeds expectations it may cost more and force the team to move some talent, likely in the form of Penner and Hemsky. So while people may rag on others when they suggest moving Hemsky or Penner it doesn't look so weird now because of the list of players they would be the most expendable. I could see the best case scenario is that if they are moved there places could be taken by a player taken in the upcoming draft or maybe they are traded for a first round pick prospect that could crack the lineup and surprise as well as be cheaper. It seems as though the way to win is with youth and if these players play the way they could and especially the big three, well come the 2012/2013 season while they are still in entry level deals leaving about 10 million in cap space to add extra talent this team could win one year earlier even.
As for projected points i dont see them as too farfetch'd and when you total it up it equals 765 points which is actually 39 more points then Chicago scored last year
Now this setup is not fool proof but it does give a better idea of what the Oilers could look like in 2013, what do you think they could look like