Edmonton/Los Angeles: Oilers visit Kings, set of Extreme Makeover?
We are still 51 days away from the NHL's trade deadline but the Oilers simply cannot afford to wait that long. Kevin Lowe hasn't admitted as much publicly and the Oilers are still within striking distance of the division lead but the team in it's current 23 man form, or 22 as of the moves today and more on that later, just don't look to have the ability to get it done and I'd bet a lot of money that the Oilers won't win a playoff round in '07 unless they have home-ice advantage for at least their first battle. So it is to that end that I expect Lowe to begin dealing sooner then later.
And by exerting some demotional muscle this morning I believe the wheels are finally in motion.
Of course we all thought that last Tuesday as well when they signed Nedved and Patrick Thoresen being the first casuality when he was sent down to the farm but it is Thoresen's callup today along with the outrighting of two Oilers rookies that appears to indicate bigger changes being afoot.
Jacques and Pouliot have been sent down to clear room for the young winger and in executing a two for one move the Oilers have not only made roster space, ie they're now carrying just 13 forwards instead of 14, they're also saving money as well. Is it in anticipation to taking on salary perhaps? We're all hoping so but it could also mean that the brass are ready to deal the likes of Jacques and Pouliot and if that's the case then the rental season should be kicking off at any time now.
The EIG hasn't exactly gone on the total cheap this year but they did raise ticket prices and before the Nedved move they were operating on a 39 mill budget which is 5 mill away from hitting the cap. No one in the media has called them out for it but I think it's a pretty shitty way of thanking the fans for years and years of supporting a somewhat second rate team. Not to mention that with more money in the coffers after a long run in the spring of '06 they no longer need to pinch their pennies. The fact of the matter is I don't know if they really needed to be miserly before last year's playoffs but guys more well versed in the NHL business side of things have long stood on the premise that the EIG's teams were more crocidile than anything else.
In any case the Oilers are allowed to spend 45 mill over an entire year and salaries pro-rate as the season expires so today the Oilers have just under 10 million to use on salaries and five million to spend when it comes to actual dollars. So if say the Leaves for some reason wanted to give away Sundin for Rob Schremp;) then we could take that on and still have room to rent an impact defenseman like the B's Brad Stuart. I'm not saying any of that is likely to happen but I am saying that if the spirit moves them the Oilers have a tonne of money left to play with.
And now with the arrival of one guy and the departures of two others they also have the room to accomodate some new players as well.
Eric Brewer is a name that keeps popping up and it's for obvious reasons like A: he played here before B: he's an impending UFA C: he plays a team that has no reason to keep him and D: he's afforable and E: he looks like a guy who can still be really effective.
The Blues are putting together a nice stretch right now and Brewer's play has risen right along with them. Over the last 10 games Brew's playing over 23 min per night and he's +3 and he shapes up as just the type of guy who could leap into our top four and make a real difference.
The Oilers are also said to be targetting Flyers dman Joni Pitkanen and that officially made hard copy yesterday as seen here.
And to follow up on that, the Ott Sun is saying the Oilers were once again scouting the Flyers yesterday afternoon when they visited the Sens:
So that's what's happening or might be happening OFF the ice and on the ice the Oilers are visting the Kings in a matchup that looks quite close on paper. Or at least it does if you look at their overall records in the past 30 games for instance. I know MC won't approve or anything;) but looking at straight up records and without considering strenght of sked or goal differential, the Oilers are 12-14-4 and the Kings are 13-14-3.
The moral of this story is that if we're talking about the lesser teams in the WC then we're looking in the mirror and usually a game in the Staples Centre could be considered a layup at worst. Right now, though, the Oilers just aren't getting any open looks and the basket looks to be about the size of a beer glass.