Sunday, April 30, 2006

Pump and Dump

Brewer, Poti, Carter, Comrie, Marchant...............

What do all these guys have in common? Well in my opinion they are all examples of Kevin Lowe's "pump and dump" strategy as a GM. Pimp a guy with OK talent (but flaws as well) by giving him primo ES linemates or defensive partners, big special teams ice time and load up the numbers (that's the pump). The look to deal him when someone actually thinks these numbers mean something outside of the context they were created (that's the dump).

Brewer was the master stroke in this game and Lowe played this for all it was worth. Vic and I spent many a thread ranting about how Brewer was being pimped with insane amounts of PP time that he did squat with and his salary and Team Canada selections were not legit. The payoff for this effort........Mr. Chris Freaking Pronger - nuff said.

Carter is hopeless without linemates to leach off as has been shown numerous times. The Vancouver sisters breathed life into his sorry corpse the same way we did by giving him all that top line ice with Smyth, but any GM who gives this guy a raise and hopes he provides something on his own is delusional. Comrie and Poti were both talented but seriously flawed players that benefited from the Oilers system and lots of love - happy with the return and also happy they're gone. Marchant is the misfire - pimped this guy to a 60 point season but failed to pull the trigger - Colombus did get suckered into signing him for big bucks though so there actually is a sucker born every minute.

Which brings us to the current roster and we can ask ourselves who are the benefactors of "the pump" this season. Basically we can start with anyone playing with Pronger. Let's not kid outselves about MAB. He's an interesting little player (tiny is more like it) and has a world of try in him - but I could look adequate playing beside the beast. We have probably pumped MAB about as much as he going to be pumped and I could see him being dealt over the summer. The other guy is clearly Horcoff. Now I like his skill set, his guts, his ES play etc etc - but playing with Hemsky and Smyth is the reason for half of his points. He's become a darn fine 2nd line player who can jump up to the top line if necessary - but he's not driving the line - he's complimentary. If we can build a package around Horcoff and a serious prospect to pull Richards out of Tampa - then that's Brewer for Pronger all over again and obviously I would be delighted.

Don't get me wrong - I like Horcoff and MAB - but "the pump" has been active this year as well - it's just that we have better pump material than most years in the recent past.


Anonymous The Rage said...

I have to disagree vehemently on Horcoff; he's a heck of a great five on five player, and while his point totals might be inflated, he's still worth his weight in gold. One of the Oilers top 5 players, imo. If anything it's Hemskey who's been "pumped" by playing with Horcoff and Smyth--I'd rather see a guy like Pisani with them, making that line great defensively as well as being able to chip in a significant amount of offence.

4/30/2006 4:05 pm  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Oooh, I know what you're saying and your points are valid but I wouldn't trade either - here's why - youngsters are at a premium and while MAB is not a top two or even top four guy he has played well in the 5 role, imo, in this series - I'd rather him back there next season then someone making twice/three times the money who is ten years older or someone who has less experience - he can skate and he can play - he is a valuable asset but if you are going to trade him you better get a sweet deal for something you need

As for Horc - in an ideal world I would see him as a # 2, Stoll as a #3 but again, unless you can get a sweet deal I'd have a hard time trading him - he's got that "something something" - I really can't argue your point - that's just my preference to be honest

4/30/2006 6:31 pm  
Blogger Asiaoil said...

Yeah like I said - this year's pumping targets are actually pretty good players in their own right. Horcoff is well rounded and gutsy and MAB is just small. I'm not out to deal either one - but lets say that Tampa would deal Richards for Horcoff, Cogliano and JFJ (or for Horcoff and Shremp) then that's similar to the Pronger for Brewer, Lynch and Woywitka deal and I take it and run in spite of how much I like Horc. Same with MAB - if we could trade MAB, Winchester and JDD for Raycroft and a 3rd I do it even though I like MAB a lot.

4/30/2006 7:31 pm  
Anonymous lowetide said...

I think Bergeron could get dealt because of that beauty contract (it's like 11 years at a dollar 80) and the payoff could be very good.

Having said that, you'd need someone like Gilbert to take over 5-7D and then give Spacek top 4 minutes along with Pronger-Smith and Staios.

Actually, that's not bad.

4/30/2006 8:45 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

Some of your trades's like you just want to give away depth so that you don't need to deal with it;)

Bergeron would be a fine start for fact that's good enough straight up. I don't know why you'd want to deal away JDD and Winchester for another 3rd round pick. Especially if you're talking '06 which is supposed to be a poor draft year.

And Richards is younger than Pronger so there's something to be said for that but Horcoff's better than Brewer as well. Cogliano and JFJ look better than Lynch and Woywitka too.

4/30/2006 9:08 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

I dunno, AsiaOil. I think that Hemsky and Stoll are the players whose opportunity has been higher than it probably would have been anywhere else. These guys, along with Bergeron, are the ones whose numbers have been 'pumped' I think.

Just a feeling. But I doubt that treatment was for the purpose of increasing their trade value. I just think that the Oilers saw themselves as a team that was close to being a legitmate contender, with most guys pretty much in their early primes, and a few youngsters with big talent ... but these kids were years away from being the kind of guys who really help you win, just too far from their prime.

And I think maybe they tried to accelerate the learning curves for all of Hemsky, Stoll, Bergeron and Torres this season. That's my best guess anyways. If they make positive strides they stay in the fold ... if they don't then move them early for proven players. Just a guess.

4/30/2006 10:00 pm  
Blogger Asiaoil said...

Yeah Dennis - I did a bit of thinking about the Raycroft thing today and I figure he's a younger version of Roloson. A league average type of goalie who has had one stunningly good year and one stunningly bad year - but as he gets older he will probably just be kind of ordinary. MAB for Raycroft straight up is about right and they can have Bustalaurier (named in honor of your Bustamaki concept) as a useless throw-in that clears out space in net at the minor league level.

I like MAB but a lot of people got way too excited about the kid playing with Pronger - he's always going to be handicapped by size and there's no way around it. I've also been pretty disappointed in his PP performance which has been mediocre. I'd be perfectly happy with a Tarnstrom/Greene 3rd pair next season which is more balanced between offense-defense / vet-rookie than having MAB back there.

Vic as for the kids being pimped - that's different in that Hemmer and Stoll are both in the team's longterm plans and accelerating their development makes sense. Hey I like Horcoff - but if Horc and a prospect or two can get us Richards for the top line then I would do it yesterday. I'm not saying trade Horcoff for anyone - only a special player like Richards who brings the complete package to the table like Pronger does. Tampa will probably try to dump St Louis or Vinny before Richards if they have any sense what so ever.

Horcoff is a great 2nd line center and a guy who can do a very credible job on the top line - but he probably wont win you a cup in that top line role unless he has elite quality wingers. We still need the center version of Pronger on this team - and if we can sell Horcoff as a reasonable replacement for Richards - well you can just hope Tampa bites.

4/30/2006 11:30 pm  
Anonymous huffpuff said...

Hmmm....unless I'm mistaken, your hypothesis is: Lowe regularly employs a strategy whereby certain players are targeted to be spoonfed prime opportunties, however unsuitable they might be, with the goal of inflating their eventual returns in trades.

I dunno...

First of all, I'm not sure if any GMs have such foresight. Even if he does, is it really in his best interest to utlize such tactics?

Most of these pump & dump "operations" which you cited were carried out over the course of an entire season. For some of them, one could even say that they span several years.

For a small market team like Edm that needs playoff revenues and has to struggle for a playoff spot every year, it does not make sense for management to purposely miscast players in unsuitable roles for entire seasons with the intent of gaining a payoff (player-wise, not necessarily money-wise) that may or may not come.

Moreover, Lowe has a fiery nature and has been known to go ballistic over losing. With his temperatment, it makes even less sense for him to purposely risk sabotaging team performance just to gain an edge in trades.

Sure, Lowe was able to obtain pretty good value for most of those guys you mentioned.

And yes, before they were traded, most of those guys were assigned roles that were ultimately proven to be beyond their capabilities.

But was there a masterful scheme behind all that? Or might there be simpler explanations?

Let's examine some of the cases:

Poti & Brewer, when they were here, were 2 young defensemen who showed a lot of promise early on. More importantly, they arguably had the best offensive skills of a bunch of defenders which were, frankly, offensively challenged. On top of that, we have a coach in MacT with a well known aversion to using forwards as regular PP pointmen (until this year with Stoll). So, right or wrong, it's just logical see them having all those PP minutes. It's partly b/c the other options are worse. And partly b/c management see them as promising young players who can cement those roles in time if given the opportunity. At least that's the way I saw it.

I agree that Brewer was probably not a surefire Olympian pick. But even if he wasn't, by all accounts, he was not far off. Personally, I (and I'm sure a lot of other people) think that Lowe wanted Brewer to be there to propel his development by being submerged among the elites. But once again, that's just my opinion.

Marchant filled in at #1 C at a time when we had a desperate shortage in that position. The way I saw it, he was not traded at the deadline b/c Lowe wanted to keep him for the stretch run that year. So more than anything, the act of keeping him legitimized his role as a genuine decision based on on-ice needs. Furthermore, it showed that Lowe values team performance more than trading returns.

With Mike Comrie, one needs to ask the question: does a GM sign a kid to a contract with reachable bonuses which total up to ~10 mil (forgot the exact amount, but whatever it was, it's definitely not chump change for EDM) and then proceed to:

a) give Comrie all the prime opportunities which allow him to hit his bonuses, all the while harboring the belief that he's below his worth, just so that he can eventually be traded away for nice returns?


b) give Comrie all the prime opportunities which allow him to hit his bonuses with the belief that he will eventually develop into a frontline go-to guy, however wrong this assessment might turn out to be?

I think the latter scenario just sounds a bit more plausible.

Not that I would totally rule out your theory ... but I think additional examination of Lowe's motives + the circumstances at hand are required before one could draw any definitive conlcusions, lest one might fall prey to the fallacy of spurious correlations.

5/01/2006 12:18 am  
Anonymous lowetide said...

How much input does Lowe have into this? My guess is that MacT is the guy who makes these calls, and the C situation is an example. iirc he had Peca in the primary offensive role to begin the year and Horcoff playing the tough minutes and Stoll getting the mutt time.

I didn't like that call, thinking Peca should be the shutdown guy and Horcoff the offensive player and there was a time that happened but Horcoff is the clear leader of this pack and has been pretty much all season.

5/01/2006 7:22 am  
Anonymous namflashback said...

I don't think any of the cases you stated were pump and dumps. In each of those situations they were the players with the most "potential" -- offensive D, scoring center, and trigger winger.

Whether or not you liked the players, they were the ones with the big(ger) contracts and so they got icetime. Who else did the coach have to give this ice time to anyway?

5/01/2006 8:36 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

I don't think you'll see Horc dealt unless his agent really asks for the moon if/and when the Oilers approach him about a long-term deal.

Bergy's signed for like forever and for fuckall and he's put up the majority of his points at ES so there's probably some GM somewhere who thinks this guy is a 55 point season waiting to happen if he just gets the requisite PP minutes.

He would be a good candidate for a trade and especially if the Oilers are really enamoured with Tom Gilbert.

5/01/2006 12:03 pm  
Anonymous YKOil said...

I think MAB is a legit pump and dump. The rest all have arguements for and against in terms of it being a deliberate p&d but MAB is the real deal.

Or should be at least. If he's never dealt then Lowe ain't pimping like he should.

5/03/2006 1:21 am  

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