Thursday, March 16, 2006

Farm team next year?

I'm wary of passing this on, as it is second-hand, but it's an interesting topic. Apparently LaForge spoke at the Student Business Conference at GMCC earlier this week. One of the attendees posted some notes at HF here: http://www.hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=231257

What stood out for me was this paraphrased bit:
Farm team: Only if it makes sense business wise. They only need about 8-12 spaces for bodies to play. Are looking at the possibility of sharing Iowa with Dallas because of geographical issues.

So the Oilers are going to try this again? I'm not sure I like that very much as I think we've seen some logistical problems especially with regard to goaltending and I'm not convinced the Oilers' prospects got the icetime they needed this season either. Is this an appropriate area to cut costs I wonder? Given what we've seen this year, is it fair to consider an AHL franchise a luxury?

I know this was beaten to death on HF after the death of the RoadRunners, but the topic deserves to be revisited I think.

12 Comments:

Blogger Dennis said...

I can't even speak rationally about this debacle at this point. The instances where players development was hampered by the lack of a farm team might not be legion but they are substantial enough where you can rhyme them off without even having to think about it.

Laforge theory can't possibly be right. One only needs to look at the way our netminding shook out this year and now we're looking at DD's first pro season and he might have to split time with the Stars farmhands? With the mess our org's in netminding wise we need to have two goalies in the A next year playing close to 40 games and that's nowhere near a guarentee with a shared affliate.

All the Oilers are thinking about right now is that bloody WHL franchise

3/16/2006 2:27 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

The WHL franchise probably makes money, the AHL franchise probably loses money.

I think it is clear that the Oilers have suffered because they have not had their own AHL franchise. I mean you could argue that Deslauriers was a no hoper anyways (and I'd probably agree) but he's all of NINE freaking starts this year. Good Lord, ridiculous. Plus you have players who are playing different systems as well, makes the transition to the big club tough if it's a call-up.

But at what price?

I mean if Lowe was given these options:
1. $38M payroll next season and status quo on the AHL situation.
2. $36M payroll next season and a deciated AHL team?

Which option would you like him to pick? (open question BTW)

3/16/2006 5:25 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

One more thing: "deciated" is the way that the cool kids are saying "dedicated" now. D'oh.

3/16/2006 5:27 pm  
Blogger speeds said...

That's exactly it Vic.

I know in the past I'd have considered it lunacy to not have your own AHL franchise, and when EDM lost their AHL team this past summer I can remember threads about it on HF and OF, and I'd say I've been swayed as well.

What they at least need though, is a partnership, so they have more control with regards to goaltending considering they have one of their top prospects as a goalie heading to the AHL.

And I definitely agree in that the decision depends on information we don't have. If they are losing 50K, 500K , 2 mil, 5 mil, we have no idea, and really can't say if it's worth it or not without that info. Even if we had had it it would be hard to pay.

Using your example the development has to be 2 mil better than it would be sticking with the status quo. How well does one need to develop talent for that to be the case?

3/16/2006 6:33 pm  
Anonymous lowetide said...

I don't like it.

IF the minor leagues still had an "IHL" (a league filled with players who had no connection to NHL teams, minor league free agent) then this wouldn't be such a terrible option.

However, that isn't the case. NHL teams try not to leave themselves vulnerable and one of the easiest ways to do it is to have duplication in areas where this is possible.

"Replacement level" NHLers are needed to make sure you're not overpaying in-season if need arises through injury, ineffectiveness, etc.

So, you need one goalie, a couple of defenseman and let's say three forwards one for each spot.

That's 6. In the Oilers case, let's call them Mike Morrison, Mathieu Roy, Dan Smith, Kyle Brodziak, Brad Winchester and Yan Stastny.

PLUS you need a place for your new pro's to learn their trade because you don't want them sitting on the bench in the NHL and they aren't good enough for major leaugue pitching.

So, let's say that's another 4 (MAP, JFJ, Greene and Syvret).

So that's 10.

And guess what? The Oilers used all of the players mentioned and if they'd had another goalie option that guy could have played too.

Plus for all the players mentioned there's also that Fernando Pisani character whose working like a bugger to get enough tools to make the show.

I don't know guys, but even if it is $2 million large a year it seems to me that as a development league/depth chart it's a must in any era.

Move the thing to New England, that would cut travel costs way down.

3/16/2006 8:45 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

Wow...what happned to you Speeds? You used to be about the music, man!;)

It's hard to quantify just what $2 mill could mean in terms of development and I say that knowing that's just a number that Vic threw out there. That being said I think it's worth cutting the big league payroll in order to have a full fledged and legitimate farm team. I wasn't that high on JDD heading into this season either but it could very well be that his '06 finished him in terms of being any use to us. Then you've got the whole Svyret thing where it took him awhile before he was playing every game in Ham. Brodziak had a very good 2nd half in '05 and then he goes to Iowa and has to carve out a new niche with a new org and there's no damn way any split affiliate is gonna play our kids as much as theirs.

3/16/2006 10:38 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Dennis:

Ya the $2M is surely on the high side, I would guess nearer $500k in additional expense for having your own squad, based on the Boston/Providence agreement. Because if much better deals were out there for either side then surely this relationship would have been dissolved long ago.

I mean the cost of players is going to be there anyways, and the cost of at least one coach. (And for that matter why even keep Ward around as 'development coach' unless you both liked him and anticipated having your own AHL team this year)

.

Lowetide:

You make a compelling argument in a lot of ways. But the people spending hundreds of thousands of their own dollars have a nasty habit of preferring hard numbers.

So my question, LT: If you are Lowe, how do you face Nichols and the EIG and justify the investment in an AHL team in a hard numbers, 'return on investment' way?

3/17/2006 10:44 am  
Anonymous lowetide said...

Vic said:
If you are Lowe, how do you face Nichols and the EIG and justify the investment in an AHL team in hard numbers, 'return on investment' way?
---

I think you tell them that from Ken Dryden to Eric Perrin there are examples of players who have been in the minor leagues in February but who end up contributing to a Cup win. You tell them that the ONLY certainty is that there will be injuries, ineffectiveness and holdouts that can't be anticipated.

You also point to this season and the legit (I think) argument that some of these kids were not in close to ideal circumstances in order to step forward, and that with the kids that are coming along there has already been a significant investment in the future.

Finally, you need to sell them on the idea that while "role players" are a dime a dozen, true quality is as rare and vital as it's always been and the entire recruiting department takes its cue from management.

That's what I'd tell them.

3/17/2006 1:00 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

All good points, Lowetide.

But if I'm an EIG investor (and I'm not, btw) you haven't convinced me to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. I mean that's a lot of money, and seeing a few struggles this year ... yup. But $500k of my money's worth of struggles ... not so much.

Now getting a WHL team ... that would get my motor humming. :-)

3/17/2006 2:57 pm  
Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

Finally, you need to sell them on the idea that while "role players" are a dime a dozen, true quality is as rare and vital as it's always been and the entire recruiting department takes its cue from management.

How many of these true quality guys spend time in the A LT?

9 AHL games for Smytty, 0 for Hemsky, 26 for Horc!, 76 for Stoll (ignoring 2004-05), 0 for Dvorak, 0 for Samsonov, 119 for Torres...I mean, guys like that, they don't need much time and they're going to develop even if you send them to a different team because they'll get to play. Guys like Pisani are the ones who will get squeezed, and while I like Pisani as much as the next guy, I'm not sure that the ROI on guys like him is worth running an entire team.

3/17/2006 3:12 pm  
Anonymous lowetide said...

Vic:
Well, if I'm Lowe and feel that the EIG are not going to give in on this issue I either decide to make it work without a tool everyone else has (this would be another Montreal Expos-style Denver boot imo) or you hand in your resignation.

There's no in-between.


MC:
I agree the truly talented are going to slip through, but my concern is that the organization is going to start making decisions that have a negative impact.

Do you think the Oilers would have signed Pisani without a full AHL team?

Bergeron?

What about the scouts? Does this affect the way they look at their jobs and perhaps make them more likely to leave?

Would the Oilers eventually have an inferior scouting staff because of this?

Finally, I'd like to know (and cannot find a list) all of the teams that have had split affiliations at the AHL level since expansion.

I went back and started to make a list but it's hard to find old information so I abandoned it.

I will say that the work I did in this regard began with the Oakland Seals which is cause enough for sober thought on this issue.

3/17/2006 3:53 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

The thing is LT, Lowe isn't pitching an idea to venture capitalists here, he doesn't need to be bulletproof. But he needs to be credible.

In fact I'd bet that all the EIG board members vote with their heart ... the numbers are just there for justification. I don't think they'd admit that, but I think it's true. And Lowe needs to be armed with more than gut feel and an emotional and anecdotal appeal, as intelligent as it may be. He doesn't need to bring a big hammer to the table, but he needs A hammer on the issue.

Having said all of that, if we assume two things for a minute:
- Evrybody does everything for a reason. Good or bad.
- Laforge is a smart bugger.

Surely he had to know, based on past experience, that a comment like this would hit the 'net, and if it didn't that he would make it happen. Much in the way that the executive of any small public company reads their investor boards. They ALL do, they never admit it, but they do.

BTW: I'll check on the HF link and get back to this.

3/17/2006 4:33 pm  

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