Friday, July 07, 2006

Flexibility, Patience, and Antarctic Currency

Hello to everyone! First off, I'd like to thank everyone here at IOF for having me on board. I love reading what all of you have to say and am happy to be in a position to add my occasional insights to the fold!

My first post, however, is pretty cut and dry. I've seen a lot of rumblings around the internet about the Oilers being in a position to snipe an overpriced contract or two to bolster their blueline. While I agree that this is a sound strategy for a team with the cap (and budget) room to pull it off, I'm not sold as of yet that Edmonton is that team. Here's what the Oil are currently on the hook for:

At forward:
Smyth 3.5
Pisani 2.5
Moreau 1.026
Reasoner .95
Pouliot .942
Torres .925
Schremp .86
Jacques .6
Brodziak .526
Winchester .5

...along with Hemsky (3.5), Horcoff (3.5), Lupul (2.5), and Stoll (2.5) on the way.

These numbers are obviously estimates and are likely generous to a guy like Jarret Stoll but look fair for Hemsky and Horcoff. You also have to assume that Lowe is done tinkering with the front half of his roster - I just can't see Samsonov coming back, as nice as he would look, or any other significant additions being involved. It really looks like Edmonton has maxed out its bang-for-the-buck on forward, with the potential exception of a cheap defensively responsible veteran.

Here's what our glorious (read: porous... throw in an 'i' if you want it to rhyme) defense looks like:
Smith 1.976
Tjarnqvist 1.625
Staios 1.615
Bergeron .969
Greene .855
Syvret .542

...and Smid, who I am casually estimating will fall into the .9 milion area.

Toss in a couple goalies at 4 and .85 million dollars respectively and the Oilers' 2006/07 contracts, with estimates included, total $37.661 million. This is hardly an earth shattering number but most people have ignored Edmonton's 2005/06 non-roster contracts when (under)-estimating what we're on the hook for for 06/07. Throw in the fact that the Oilers' last confirmed prediction for their budget in the upcoming season was $39-40 million and there is only approximately $1.5 million in play left.

That's tons, you say... especially with a salary, even Bergeron's, going the other way in a trade. However it has long been espoused by those around these parts that the most sound financial strategy (and the one that K-Lowe employed this year) would be to play from October to March with the most affordable possible roster that still puts you in a play-off spot. The Oilers were excellent in this regard in the 05/06 season, adding Tarnstrom and Spacek midway through and Samsonov and Roloson at the deadline so that its playoff roster was much (affordably) more expensive than their season roster.

Do you really think Lowe is going to piss away this financial cushion so soon? For a guy who's been painfully slow in measuring his options when weakenesses have been exposed in the past, I hardly think that this summer, with the remaining UFA's and overpriced potential castaways, is when he addresses the hole in our back end. If he adds more than a Tarnstrom in salary, it's going to happen midway through the season after he's ensured that Smid is either Meszjaros' second coming or painfully makes us forget all about Cross flailing away at a breaking Iginla after yet another giveaway.

11 Comments:

Blogger RiversQ said...

I still contend that people need to be careful when talking about a salary cushion for a few reasons:

a) Deadline deals are overrated. Like Vic says it seems forwards have trouble adapting - Samsonov vs. Reasoner was practically a wash. In fact if you consider the replacements in that specific case it was probably a negative deal.

b) Playoff position matters because home ice matters. The Oilers did things the hard way last time. While progressing through playoffs might be akin to flipping a coin several times, you can help the situation by weighting it. A strong regular season record and home ice advantage goes a long way here.

c) Opportunities exist now. Teams have to finish constructing their rosters and they have cap numbers to meet. There are opportunities to improve the roster before training camp.

Also... There's no way Stoll gets $2.5MM. Of course if Horcoff gets a long term deal it wouldn't surprise me to see his number be $500K to $1MM than what you've got there so it probably balances out.

7/07/2006 11:35 am  
Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Why is the text all centred? Was this a poem?

7/07/2006 12:18 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

an ode to penguins, possibly...

7/07/2006 12:29 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

Deadline deals are overrated.
You're quite right, but that doesn't change the value of a trade partway through the year. Thornton is too easy and unique of an example, but Spacek and Tarnstrom were brought in only after it was decided Crossanov had no chance of returning to form. I think the Oilers have shown a pattern of assessing their situation before acting. Also, as mudcrutch likes to tout, it's not entirely difficult to move an aspect of your team from crap to average. This is likely to be the Oilers' path and should only take one move.

Playoff position matters because home ice matters

I agree with you entirely, but the Oilers played with fire last season and made a killing. I think most of us believe that their forwards are marginally better and there goaltending is miles ahead of what it was last season.
Does this not seem like the kind of calculated risk that has been a frequent Oiler strategy? Obviously, it's better hockey-wise if you ice the best team you can all year long. I'm just suggesting that the Oilers' brass may follow their previous patterns and try to maximize a cheap roster before making major moves.

Opportunities exist now
It is entirely possible that a very good chance to improve the roster arises between now and camp. With the Oilers' budget where it is and only one need to address, they would be foolish to turn away a good deal for a defenseman. If they simply resign a cheap vet like Tarnstrom, what is keeping them from saving as much money as possible on that deal by waiting until January? (Brief) history shows they might.

As for the numbers, I wanted to give a rough idea (which you acknowledge is probably close). If I'm wrong, I'd rather be wrong on the high side.

I really like your comments and I agree with them 100% from a hockey point of view. To some degree, home ice also means a greater prospective playoff revenue so I agree there too. I just think that with what the Oilers have been saying and Lowe's track record of nauseating patience that we shouldn't necessarily be holding our breaths on a defense-saving deal.

7/07/2006 12:44 pm  
Anonymous namflashback said...

RivQ,

The deadline deal was important for the Oilers because they HAD to make the playoffs last year -- not from a business perspective, but to deliver a positive signal to their fans.

By deadline time this year, if the Oilers are in 6-8 position securely without a gaping hole in one area of their roster -- I doubt we see any deadline deals. Make the playoffs and 1st round exit -- people will be sated if not satisfied.

Good prospects and picks are going to be increasingly valuable as we move more years into the CBA -- so you still may not want to give them up if you don't really have to.

re: the RFA's
a) The Horcoff/Henrik Sedin comparison is a good one. They did the 1Y "let's see" contract last year. Horcoff has a strong playoff as the trump card. I say 4.5 to get a long term deal.

b) Hemsky/Daniel Sedin comparison is not as valid. This is only Hemsky's 2nd contract. Gets 1 Y in aribitration at $2.5-$3.0.

c) Stoll - $1.75

d) Lupol - $1.25

7/07/2006 1:08 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

nfb (if I may call you as such)- I would be happy if those are the numbers Edmonton ended up paying. Interestingly enough, Lupul had a much stronger AHL season than Stoll in the lock-out year if you judge a player by his counting numbers. I'm not sure if that is something they'd use to project an arbitration number with but an interesting note.

With that said, it's 4:30 (ish) in Winnipeg so the weekend starts now! Enjoy everyone!

7/07/2006 3:26 pm  
Anonymous namflashback said...

yes, you an call me nfb if i can call you shead!

rivQ -- lost in my ramble was the statement that I agree with you, if you don't need to trade at the deadline, don't. I'm sure the Oilers would want to run deep into the playoffs every year, I'm just not convinced that its a good idea to pay a big price every year.

Running deep means your roster players become more expensive. If you trade away picks and roster-ready prospects, you start sending away your inexpensive futures.

7/07/2006 4:23 pm  
Anonymous Yanner39 said...

Showerhead - good post. Enjoy your stuff at HF as well.

At this point, the only way Lowe adds a d-man is by way of trade. I just don't think there is anything out there worth overpaying for. Because, I don't necessaryly think overpaying is bad to begin with. That's the nature of the beast in the NHL's UFA market this year. You don't over spend and other teams get better and you don't. I read somewhere that Chicago is under pressure to sign someone simply because they haven't done anything so far. Key the ridiculous offer to Samsonov.

As far as saving $$ for the deadline, I want to go on record as saying that I hate the trading deadline. I think it's stupid and I hate the concept of trading for rentals. I think chemistry is huge (that's just my opinion and others may disagree) and you don't have time to gel with new teammates in 20 or so games.

The year COL aquired Ray Bourque, I think the Avs would have won the cup anyways. I think acquiring players at the deadline is merely to acquire insurance going into the playoffs.

7/08/2006 7:20 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

Welcome aboard. Great first post.

7/08/2006 10:25 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Good post Showerhead. I left justified it so it looks less like poetry. Looks like you have about as much HTML skill as the rest of us. :-) Riversq has saved the sidebar a couple of times, for me left justifying text is about the extent of my HTML abilities.

I have to think that namflashback's guesses on the salaries are nearer the mark if the arb guys all go to the hearing. So that saves a couple of million, maybe a bit more.

On the other hand if Lowe goes for longer term contracts with these guys then maybe your totals will end up nearer the mark.

In any case your point stands, looks like Lowe won't have the space to add a big salary that we thought he would. Some good points either way on the whole trade deadline dealing issue.

Personally I think that Lowe won't do anything unless he has to at this year's deadline. Like with Roloson last season (Samsonov was nice, but the goalie was a deal he HAD to make imo). I liked the moves last year, Oiler fans needed that, but also agree with the folks that are saying that you just can't carry on giving up prospects and picks like that every season.

The exception I'd make is solid, veteran Dmen who are pending UFAs. You can't have enough of those heading into the playoffs. And they were going for about a 50th overall pick last season in trade. About the same as in previous years. And with the crazy money that merely decent defencemen were getting last week ... I'd rather Lowe spent a second rounder, or equivalent value prospect, at the deadline on these guys than blow a big chunk of his payroll on them.

Another thing this brings up: If Lowe really has negotiated with all of Spacek, Samsonov, Peca and bid on Chara ... how the hell was he going to pay them? Looks like maybe room for one of them not named Chara ... but that's it.

7/08/2006 7:50 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

First off, thanks for the welcoming feedback!

Another thing this brings up: If Lowe really has negotiated with all of Spacek, Samsonov, Peca and bid on Chara ... how the hell was he going to pay them? Looks like maybe room for one of them not named Chara ... but that's it.
That's the really interesting point if you ask me. I'm going to assume that their is a chronology involved that makes things look more rational in context, but here's my best guess.

Lowe bid on Chara because he felt the opportunity was too good to pass up. If Chara bites, we have a poor man's Pronger (who makes more money!) and have a reasonable chance of entering next season with a similar corps to that of game seven.

I'd imagine when Chara went to Boston, Lowe decided to bank a little bit on Spacek returning and ended up pulling the trigger on the Pronger deal without minding so much that Lupul was RFA.

All the while I would further guess that Lowe's negotiations with Peca went a little more like "how about less money and more try" than "so... 3.5?". Reasoner was an excellent choice for poor man's Peca and may or may not have come as a surprise.

Reasoner means no Peca, no Peca means more $, more $ means a legitimate offer to Spacek. Spacek balks. Is there a legitimate offer on the table for Samsonov right now? Lowe could have one hell of a pump-and-dump year with yet another offense-first guy on the forward ranks. One of them would have to have a huge counting year, no?

Nonetheless, it's all speculation but if steps were involved and contingent upon other steps it could all make sense.

7/10/2006 8:50 am  

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