Let’s start today’s Pipeline by sending out congratulations to the New Jersey Devils for signing Brendan Shanahan. He may be 40, but he will contribute on and off the ice. Every team should have a guy like Shanny.
Also, I want to say thank you to everyone for their reading and support of The Pipeline. It has been a blast writing about hockey and my beloved Oilers, and the support of readers has been tremendous. I look forward to continuing to write as the self-proclaimed unofficial Oilers blogger as the season progresses.
Since we’ve been talking about the Oilers so much here on the Pipeline, let’s talk about the rest of the league today, starting with the Dany Heatley-San Jose rumors.
Show of hands, people: How many of you think Dany will end up in San Jose? I don’t. For one thing, the Heatley camp allegedly angered Sharks President and GM Doug Wilson with their public insistence that San Jose want him. The other problem is the feasibility of a trade. Both Ottawa and San Jose are close to the cap limit. Meaning, any deal of salaries between the two teams would need to be unilateral in terms of value. Jonathan Cheechoo and change is not worth Heatley, and Patrick Marleau only has one year left before becoming an unrestricted free agent, greatly reducing his trade value. The only way Heatley becomes a Shark is if a third team gets involved, and that prospect is full of logistical issues.
All signs point towards Heatley either remaining a Senator, or being moved to the New York Rangers. Regardless if it is San Jose, New York, or some new team ending up being the destination for Dany, I see the Oilers three players: Cogliano, Penner and Smid, being potential keys to a deal taking place. But the only way Edmonton will give up Cogliano is if a veteran, established star player finds his way back to the Oilers in the deal. Confused? Yeah, me too.
The Zherdev saga continues. Word is that Big-Z is considering Washington or signing with the KHL. I read an interesting interview this morning with Michael Nylander, who stated on August 3 that he’d be willing to play on the Oilers now. I almost dropped my coffee. Would the Oilers brass be willing to exchange Nylander, who jilted them at the alter a few years ago, for let’s say problem child Robert Nilsson? Zherdev’s Capital investment completely depends on something happening with the repenting Nylander. You know what the strange thing is: At this point, trading for Nylander wouldn’t make things worse in Edmonton. They still need a first-line center, and moving someone like Nilsson to the Caps would eliminate a headache. Can Lowe forgive and forget? Could Nylander contribute 60 to 70 points?
Zherdev will likely end up in Russia, as the KHL is paying big bucks to any NHL player willing to listen. The Jiri Hurdler deal was twice the arbitration amount granted to him in the NHL. Look for Nicky to sign in Russia for $5 million per season. If he stays in the NHL, he will sign with Edmonton, Washington, Atlanta, or Florida.
Here’s a subject worthy of conversation: Who have been the off-season winners and losers so far? Winners in my mind: The New York Islanders, for not trading the 1st overall pick and selecting John Tavares; the Tampa Bay Lightning, for completely rebuilding their defense; the Toronto Maple Leafs, for also a defensive rebuild; and the Calgary Flames, because no team will be able to match their impending line combination of Bouwmeester and Phaneuf. It has been a big off-season for the defenses this year.
Off-season losers? The Ottawa Senators, for handling the Heatley fiasco maliciously. Can you imagine, working out a deal with Edmonton, and then intentionally releasing the player names to the media so other teams like the Rangers and Sharks would get jealous and offer more? One of the more amusing aspects of the Heatley situation is not knowing who the “real” jerk in all of this is. Speaking of losers, how about Chicago? Sure they signed Hossa, but Dale Tallon lost his job, and the Hossa deal is being investigated by the league. Mismanagement of the team’s abundant resources will force future trading of younger players to occur, starting perhaps with Patrick Sharp before the season begins.
Another nose-holding moment belongs to the Phoenix Coyotes. Jim Basillie and Gary Bettman both look stupid – Basillie, a folk hero to many Canadians for trying to bring the former Winnipeg Jets to Hamilton, tried to dance around NHL rules to acquire the Coyotes. Bettman, who seems to hate the idea of there being more teams in Canada, does have a point in doing what he can to prevent people like Basillie from pushing the league around. But seriously Betts and members of the NHL Governance Committee, if teams losing money in southern states were moved to places like Seattle, Portland, Winnipeg, Hamilton, or Quebec City, they would succeed. Why is there such a battle to keep a team in a market where they are hemorrhaging money? And why isn’t the NHLPA involved in this? The cap is going down next year, due in part to so many teams losing money. The PA should be going crazy wanting teams to move to markets with more fan interest and financial potential.
Who do you think are winners and losers so far this off-season? And where do you see players like Zherdev, Heatley and Nylander ending up this season?