Hi friends, and welcome back to The Pipeline. Thanks for all the kind comments on my blogs, as your support is truly appreciated. Sooner or later, I will be made an official blogger here, which I'd welcome because the incentives are great. I have it on good authority that "official" bloggers receive annually a 2-pound bag of salt water taffy, a year's supply of Body Shop Peppermint foot lotion, and a free weekend's stay at the Everclear Trailer Park in Burkesville, Kentucky, where it is BYOBBQ, BYOChew, and BYORifle, but the moonshine is free and is provided in brown jugs.
I suppose I should talk Oilers hockey today, because my next blog, which is already half-written, has absolutely nothing to do with the Oilers. Actually, it might be the most pointless blog I've written ever, and I've written alot of blogs (over 300 on my Facebook Page alone). Fans might be wondering why I have forsaken God's favorite team lately, talking about other things. Trust me, I know God, and he's an Oilers fan. God, Allah, Zeus and Buddha...all Oilers fans, and all annoyed that Rogers Sportsnet does not show all Oilers games in HD yet. Patience, fellas...Rome wasn't built in a day.
I was looking at a certain NHL salary cap website, and was doin' a little head scratching in respect to the Oilers. The site stated that before the recent signings of Brule and Smid, the Oil had $3.3mil of cap room available. Smid signed for $1.3mil, and Brule for $700K, making available cap room now $1.3mil. This factor completely explains why the Oilers have done next to nothing in terms of signing UFA's or making a deal or two this off-season. Choosing Khabibulin over Roloson, it appears, is the only significant change the Oilers will make going into training camp.
But here's where I get confused: Normally the Oilers keep 22 players with the Big Club, and only those 22 count against the cap. If there is an injury, once a player is placed on the IR (Injured reserve) their salary no longer counts against the cap, but the salary of whatever player the Oilers bring up becomes a factor. Also counting against a team's cap are any bought out contracts, but the Oilers thankfully don't have any. When I read the Oilers salary list, and consider the 22 players most likely to make the team, the cap number reads as follows:
Add Bonus Cushion: $1mil
Total Spending: $55.845
Total Cap Space Remaining: $1.955mil
It should be noted that the 22 player salaries listed above do not include cap numbers for Brule, Schremp, and Reddox. Reddox is salary would be forward #14 (and I am only counting 13 forwards sticking with the team), Brule has to make the team before his $700K would count against the cap, and Schremp is still an RFA, so he has no cap number as of yet. If Schremp and Brule go in, two others would have to come out. Confused? Keep reading; it gets worse.
A number of younger Oilers that have contracts do not currently count against the cap. For example, Jordan Eberle. I know he is a long-shot to make the team this year, but the Oilers need goals, and he is a scorer. What would happen to the cap number if you insert Eberle, and take out, for example, Storini? Simply put, the available cap amount shrinks, because Eberle had a signing bonus. The Oilers defense is highly paid (a million more on average spent per defensemen compared to forwards), so inserting Chorney or Peckham and removing a different player would likely give more cap room.
Rumors have been swirling all week about the Oil making a serious play for Phil Kessel, but Boston is as much up against the cap as Edmonton. The Bruins need to move Kessel for picks and prospects, or they must ship Kessel in a way that moves other large Bruin salaries. The NHL right now is a buyer's market, and the net effect of the salary cap is that the value of higher priced players has dropped considerably. For someone like Kessel, the value is significant. But for players over the age of 25 earning $3mil plus per season? The times, they are a changin'.
Time for some debate, Oiler fans: The Oilers have certain players who are overpriced for what they bring to the team. Penner and Nilsson are the most notable, but other players that could fall into that category include Pisani, Horcoff, Staios and Moreau. Some feel that Souray and Visnovsky are also overpriced, even though they are quality players. The reality in trading any of these players to a "buyer" (i.e. a team with significant cap space going into the season) is that you know you'll practically have to give the player away. So the question is, is there merit to the Oilers losing two or three decent players in a fire sale, so they can have a chance to trade prospects and picks for Phil Kessel, or a similar "star" player?
Wherever Kessel ends up...that is if the Bruins don't have a little fire sale of their own to open up room for him...has to be a team that can afford a cap hit of $5mil per season. Considering what a 36 goal-per-season player is worth nowdays, $5mil is actually low-balling his contract. He's closer to being a $6mil per season player. The Oilers would need to dump both Penner and Nilsson for almost zero return. How would fans react to that? And then for the pleasure of trying to trade for and sign Kessel, the Oilers would likely need to offer the Bruins something like Jordan Eberle, Taylor Chorney and a 2nd round pick. Translated, the means the Oil would need to trade or move five players for Phil Kessel...yikes!
We're not just talking about Kessel here, folks. This could be any trade between the Oilers and another team who is up against the cap. Keeping this in mind, the inactivity in the Oilers camp seems excusable. Other teams, such as the Ottawa Senators, have found out just how little a Heatley is worth in the modern NHL. It isn't his attitude that has teams scared away, nor is it his one-dimentional play. His cap hit is the problem. It's not that San Jose or the Rangers don't want him; the math just doesn't work without a massive salary dump first taking place. The only reason the Edmonton-Ottawa trade offer was feasible was because the value going both ways was equal. Bryan Murray might be hockey IQ challenged, but no matter how much Heatley's value has dropped, he won't be shipping him to NYR for Wade Redden, or to San Jose for Johnny Cheechoo.