Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lowe's Summer

An interesting one for Kevin Lowe. Worth a brief recap methinks.

Off of the top of my head, and in no particular order, here we go.

Signs Roloson to a 3 year, $11M deal moments before the UFA period begins.

You had to think that Roloson would ask for MannyMoney. That's just the way that hockey players think. The question was whether or not Lowe would pay it. And the answer was YES.

Fernandez signed for the same three year term at an escalating rate. $3.75M, $4.5M, $4.75M. That's $13M at an ascending annual rate. Which is fair enough, Manny is still pretty young. Roloson got $11M over three years, he starts out getting a bit more than Manny at $4M and then sees his salary remain the same in year two and drop a million in year three. Which is fair enough, although he is apparently a fit guy, Rolo is getting pretty old.

So thinking of it within that framework, this was a pretty well negotiated deal by Lowe's team. And a very fair deal for Roloson as well.

Without knowing the asking price for Nabokov or Giguere it is hard to say if this was a smart move moneywise. But there isn't much to bitch about here, especially after seeing the Gerber deal that followed. Aside from Hasek, which is sort of a special case, Manny Legace is the goalie bargain of the year I think. But it would have been a strange move for Lowe to pursue him, I don't think he really could have. Not sensible.

As an aside: Rolo was a trade deadline mercenary, rare that those guys sign with their short term team. I think Roloson was the only one from the 05/06 deadline trades, no?

Signs Pisani to a four year, $10M deal.

I was hoping for more of a home town discount, but it's a fair rate. Pisani was in a unique position because he combined a long track record of stunningly effective outscoring against some damn good opposition over his short NHL career with a remarkable streak of goal scoring in the playoffs. If he had gone UFA he would have had a lot of suitors, from Doug Wilson and Bobby Clarke at one end to Dale Tallon and Mike Barnett at the other. A good signing methinks.

The Pronger trade for Lupul and Smid.

A disappointment for me. I'm not disputing the quality of any player in the deal, but this move smells of "rebuild on the fly". Granted the persistent rumours of Horton/JayBo set the bar pretty high, and if that deal really was on the table and Lowe balked ... then that was a huge mistake IMO.

Lupul is not really the kind of player I like. He's a drifter and a shooter. But this coaching staff likes that kind of guy more than most. If you can finish ... these guys are willing to live with some other flaws in your game. That's not so common for NHL coaching staffs in this era.

Locks up the key forwards: The Horcoff and Hemsky Deals.

Both terrific IMO. Though if one of them breaks their legs in training camp it will look like a lot of cash down the drain of course. No reward without risk though. Great deals.

Acquires two defensemen we've never heard of before.

Hejda and Tjarnqvist. Who? Jury is out. Then again, who the hell knew who Karlis Skrastins was before he came over when he was about 6 or 7 years older than Smid is now? And he's the guy that Q leaned on every bit as much as Blake last season. You never know with defensemen. Some effer who is waived without takers this season will be a hot commodity on the UFA defenseman market in a couple of years ... I don't know who, but someone will.

The main thing is that Lowe didn't overpay for a mediocre D in the madass market that John Ferguson created on July 1st. Would have screwed up his own salary structure with Smith and Staios if he had.

Signs Reasoner.

A great signing. I wish they could have gotten him for more years though. Looked like this guy's career might be over at this time last summer. I was tough and go with the knee issue. But he should be even better this year, and hopefully he gets better icetime and opportunity this go 'round. I suspect that he will.

Signs Petr Sykora.

A really good signing IMO, I like Sykora. I really thought that Petr would come a bit cheaper though, because his counting numbers haven't been any hell over the past three years. Still a good deal though. We'll see how well he does as a PP pointman, because I'm guessing that he was promised that opportunity with the signing. And Pronger left a big void on the PP when he left the team.


Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Agreed on all of this Vic.

I think Lowe had a very good summer (you knew I would say that, didn't you?).

His work is not done but far better to pick up a D via trade, even if it means giving up an asset, then blowing wads of money in the silly season. If you do that then you're dumping assets down the road to accomodate your 5M per fourth Dman.

I think Tarnqvist will work out - Hejda is the mystery man. Can he be Henrik Tallinder?

The Pronger trade - well, if the rumours about Bouwmeester/Horton are true then Lupul/Smid is a step down. But if they were not on the table ...

I know Dennis will disagree but I think when that trade demand was made public Lowe was screwed. I think the return was pretty good - not great - but pretty good.

8/15/2006 8:37 am  
Anonymous namflashback said...

The Sykora signing must have deflated many of the prospects, because that roster spot is no longer up for grabs. In fact none of the veterans are going to lose a spot unless they come to camp out of shape, or drunk. So, 1 C spot for MAP, Schremp, Brodziak, Thoreson, Almtorp to fight over.

1 W spot for Winchester, Mikhnov, Jaques to fight over.

Then extra positions for each of C or W?

There is not enough time and space to bring all of these prospects on stream.

All in all, a good plan for the management staff. Now that personnel is solidified -- on to coaching and systems.

I assert that the "system changes" within a game that the Oilers achieved during the cup run would serve them really well in the regular season. Can this be done with good results over an 82 game season?

ES performance was bad for the Oilers last year, which was very unusual. Was this a result of the goaltending? New rule enforcement? They need to get back to where then can be on this.

PP without Pronger. 4 forwards will be a good change. More shot selection below the tops of the circles will be a good change. I predict this will do very well.

PK without Pronger, Peca, Dvorak. Edmonton has always been a strong PK team and the coach knows how to build these skills.

4 on 4. Edmonton was ridiculously good 4 on 4. It doesn't happen often, but I like their smarts when out there. All of Peca, Pronger, and certainly Samsonov were fun to watch on the 4x4.

8/15/2006 9:20 am  
Blogger matt said...

Losing Sampsonov, Spacek, and Tarnstrom ought to figure in the analysis.

8/15/2006 11:06 am  
Blogger matt said...

Oh, and the JBo/H was on the table, at least per the Florida press. I recall reading somewhere that the picks were the difference. I disagree - I've been a JBo fan for a long time - but we can't pass judgment until Lowe has played all his cards.

8/15/2006 11:08 am  
Anonymous Big T said...

One thing to keep in mind is that J-Bo is 23 and a UFA in 2yrs. (might be 3yrs???) Despite, most likely, being a far superior player to Smid today, Lowe probably reasoned that only having him for 2-3 yrs rather than seven cancelled out this advantage in development.

Personally I view the two as equal (nearly identical) players with J-Bo just being 3 years older and so that much further along. The question to ask is it better to have Smid as a 6-7th man @ $942K/yr for 2yrs while he gets his AB's or to have a Ferguson/Cross/Ulanov back for roughly the same price. I'm not sure what my answer is, but we know what Lowe thinks.

As for the rest of the trade, Horton is probably the lesser player to Lupul, though is also younger as well. All in all, pretty similar players again taking age into account.

The difference here, if the FLA option was even available, was definately the picks.


PS - One thing that Lowe clearly is keeping in mind when evaluating trade value is how long he will control the rights to said player. Although, given he so rarely puts the screws to his RFA's doesn't justify why he'd put such a high value on this.

8/15/2006 12:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

System changes - The Oil only gave up 22 shots a game in front of Conkannen - that is the anomaly, not 35 a game in front of Roli.

I think that the Lupul/Smid offer was setting the bar. Lowe was using it to get a rising star, quality prospect and high picks. The sequence of events around the trade were: Keenan said publicly that Lowe was asking for too much (but only Lowe and Burke knew what the front-running offer was). Keenan dropped out and signed Salei, committing Anaheim. I speculate that Anaheim added another pick at this time and now that Florida was out, the deal was made.

Over all, I think that the Oilers got more than I expected for Pronger, but it helps less now than I expected.

If people look at the drafts over time, first-round picks are very likely to play in the NHL, except in the very worst of years. Second-round picks are likely to play in the NHL only in the best of years. By "likely to play" I mean that most of the players picked in the round that year actually make it. After that its difficult to prove that its any better than luck. Every late-round wonder was passed over for players that did not pan out, even by the team that eventually selected him. In 1998, Michael Heinrich and Alex Henry were selected ahead of Horcoff and in 1996 the Oilers selected Boyd Devereau, Chris Hajt, Tom Poit, Bryan Urick, Bryan Randall and David Bernier ahead of Pisani - if they had a crystal ball, surely Horcoff and Pisani would have gone higher) If anyone can show me a player that this does not work on, I'd like to know.

When the Pronger trade is compared to the Lindros deal from Quebec to Philadelphia, It looks pretty good. Philly sent Forsberg, Ricci, Duchesne, Hextall and 2 picks to Quebec. Four years later, Quebec won their first Cup (in Colorado) not Philly. The difference here is that Pronger is a proven commodity Lindros wasn't. Lowe has said that the key in under the cap is developing your own picks. At the deadline, he gave up most of last years picks - but supposedly a very weak draft year. Starting next year he has extra high picks. He better fix the farm team mess so he can put them to good use.

8/15/2006 1:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horton had as many goals as Lupul did in fewer games and is 2 years younger. I'd take him over Lupul for sure.

8/15/2006 3:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We do not know for sure that Bouwmeester and/or Horton were even offered, let alone any draft picks. What if Florida really offered Weiss/Mezei? Lowe supposedly asked Ottawa for Havlat and Phillips - that's my favourite mythical package.

What we do know is that Lowe saw Anaheim's offer as better than Florida's offer, but worse than what he was asking Florida for. I am quite confident that at the time Lowe got the maximum value (in the Oilers' eyes) that the other teams were prepared to pay.

8/15/2006 4:28 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

Damn right Horton is better than Lupul. Totally different style of player too. I'm not saying it's not a big if mind you but the only iffy thing about Horton is his durability.

I think Lowe shot for the moon with Fla and got too greedy and then he got drilled in the ass by Burke and Ana. We know about watching young Dmen develop and yeah we have more service time of Smid then we would JB but how many years until Smid doesn't make us vomit? Hopefully he's the real deal but I'm always a wait and see guy

8/16/2006 3:59 pm  
Anonymous Julian said...

What's the word on Sykora defensively? It's hard to tell by looking at his icetimes b/c he played for two different teams last year, and i didn't follow the NYR all that closely.

Hopefully he's not a guy that needs sheltering, but can he at least take care of himself in his own end? Is he a puck possesion guy enough that the puck at least stays in the other teams end for most of his shifts?

Any idea of what sort of quality of opp he played against in Anaheim and then in NY?

8/16/2006 10:53 pm  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Julian - Sykora can take care of his end I think - good Jersey upbringing you know

8/17/2006 10:53 am  
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