These are the days that are difficult to be an NHL blogger. Just what am I suppose to be talking about?
The Oilers signed Rob Schremp on Friday, and he was the last remaining RFA requiring a contract. Yippee. That’s all there is folks. There’s really nothing else to say right now.
It’s hard not to be a little down on the team before the first puck drop of the season, but in truth, any feelings of disappointment are misappropriated. It isn’t that the Oil, outside of the free agent signing of The Bulin Wall, did nothing in the off-season. They tried; oh Lord, how they did try. We do know for certain Oilers management had a trade completed to acquire Dany Heatley, but the move was nixed by the player. It has been speculated throughout the off-season that the Oilers attempted to sign or trade for players including Jaromir Jagr, Mats Sundin, Patrick Sharp, and Phil Kessel. And those are just the names we heard about! You could likely add another 10 names to the list of players the Oilers showed interest in, but were in the end unable to land. The 2009/2010 Oilers will look remarkably like the 2008/2009 squad, minus Kotalik and Roloson.
Yes, the Oilers have a new coaching staff now. Will Pat Quinn and Tom Renney be able to create results that Craig MacTavish couldn’t? It is impossible to say. While Edmonton fans have had a serious hate on for MacT for years, most players spoke highly of him. Quinn as a coach has a history of bettering a team immediately, often by 20 plus points in a season. Add 20 points to Edmonton’s total last year, and they would have safely made the playoffs.
There is speculation that Jordan Eberle has a shot at making the team; however, an Edmonton Journal article on the weekend suggests that Jordan will be back in junior this season. Other young Oiler prospects will have a difficult time cracking the line-up because the team simply has too many players and not enough roster spots. Should the team carry 20 skaters and two goalies up with the team when the season begins, the roster should look like this:
Penner – Horcoff – Hemsky
Nilsson – Gagner – O’Sullivan
Moreau – Cogliano – Pisani
Stortini – Brule – Reddox
Souray – Visnovsky
Gilbert – Grebeshkov
Staios – Smid
It seems impossible to think the Oilers will be making any moves prior to the start of the season. The problem is not a lack of willingness to deal; the greater issue is in respect to potential dance partners. If there was a deal to be made, it would have occurred already. The moves that will occur will more likely involve the minors. A few potential fourth-line skaters will end up in Springfield, or might be lost to waivers, but do not have sufficient value to bring in team improvements via trade.
The only potential trade that could result in acquiring a proven Top 6 forward would require the trading of a Top 4 defenseman. With the Oilers having four defensemen with a minimum cap hit of $3mil plus, making a deal will be difficult. Half of the league seems handcuffed this season by the cap – Factor in No Movement Clauses, and the realization that the salary cap will be coming down next season, and the economics of the NHL may force Edmonton to stick with their current roster.
The most interesting thing currently occurring in the NHL is the continuing Jim Balsillie bid to buy the Phoenix Coyotes. What is the bid up to now? $260mil, plus almost $200mil to relocate to Hamilton? You have to admire Jim Balsillie for his stubbornness. If I had $500 million to spend on whatever, I think I’d be on my private island, laying on a lawn chair, drinking Long Island Iced Tea and paying the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders to dance for me all day. Hockey is great and all, but just how unimaginative do you have to be to spend your life arguing with Gary Bettman, when you can be out living it up and sleeping on a mattress of $20’s?