Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Running to Stand Still?

Lowe sure knows how to keep it interesting. He's not done yet, but I'll recap anyway.

Visnovsky for Stoll and Greene

I've never been a fan of Greene. His unending parade to the penalty box in the 05/06 playoffs and his inability to get anything done the following year without Bergeron and bottom six opposition made him a hard guy to love. He's got limited upside and limited value so he's no big loss. I am a little torn on Stoll though. While he's not a top sixer in my mind due to his lack of speed and inability to create much offense at 5V5, he was a solid contributor who soaked up some serious tough minutes. He's going to be missed this year, but I'm not so sure about the year after that, which is the theme of this post.

Visnovsky is no major coup, but he's an honest-to-goodness ES defenseman who has been playing in the real conference and taking on some decent opposition. While his PP scoring rates haven't been outstanding, I still have him pegged as at least an upper quartile PP point producer and he may have added benefit to PP puck possession in general. Visnovsky doesn't come cheap with a $5.6MM cap hit, but that's not out of line for a player with his track record these days.

All in all this is a deal that should help now if Stoll's minutes can be replaced and Visnovsky should be a positive contributor right through the Hemsky Window (TM). Also, they didn't give up any core pieces for the next few years either.

Torres for Brule

This one is just batshit crazy. I realize that they had to move some salary but surely they could have acquired something with a little more value. Like a draft pick. I could be wrong - maybe MacT can turn this kid around, but I doubt it. I don't know what it would take to help Brule find the net but I figure NORAD, a flashlight and a shovel is a good start.

Losing Torres hurts because this team needs players that A) can win puck battles; B) outplay their contracts; and C) give some matchup flexibility. They lose on all fronts here IMO. I suppose you chalk it up to collateral damage if Lowe really is able to add a big piece with some of the saved payroll. It's also not lost on me that the two guys that rebelled against the idiotic Stortini vs. Crosby matchup were sent out this week. I'm sure that was under consideration as well.

Pitkanen for Cole

I like the player coming this way. He's a big strong guy that can skate and win puck battles. I'm a little concerned about translating his production from the SE Division to the real world - basically he's not quite as productive as Ryan Smyth while playing in one of the worst divisions in hockey. Regardless, there's no doubt he'll be able to give the Oilers some tough minutes at 5V5. It's hard for me to look at his pending UFA status after this season as a big deal either. Regardless of what Lowe does the rest of the offseason, this team has some contracts to worry about in the next two years - first Horcoff, Garon and Grebeshkov/Smid and then Gagner and Cogliano the following year. It might not be such a bad thing if Cole just walks after the year is out.

The problem with this deal is the value though. They gave up a 24yr old player with two more years of RFA status for a 29 yr old pending UFA. When healthy, I think Pitkanen was a pretty effective player at ES this past year for the Oilers and he certainly still had more upside above and beyond the GP. One would think that Lowe could have squeezed a pick or something else out of Rutherford.

Overall, I think the Oilers have improved very marginally. Cole vs. Torres is unquestionably an improvement at LW, especially in terms of special teams production. Visnovsky vs. Pitkanen is also a slight improvement IMO. However, both of these replacements are more expensive and Stoll vs. Pouliot or Brodziak is likely to be a problem. If the Oilers picked up more than 6-8 GD here I'd be very surprised and that's not nearly enough to make them a legit playoff team. I don't care what Lowetide says, this team scored 220 goals and gave up 247 of them. 6-8 goal differential is a drop in the bucket and even if the development of Gagner, Cogliano, Gilbert and Nilsson means another 10 GD, they're still not yet breaking even. This team was far off and based on all the changes, at least Lowe seems to realize that.

I can't get worked up about it though.

If Lowe is done, he made these deals without sacrificing any of the core pieces that will lead to the real target for this team which should be the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 seasons. He's also got a situation where Cole's money is coming off the books and he'll probably have to use it to keep the core together. Lowe might not have improved the team very much, but he didn't compromise the opportunity to come and I'm satisfied with that.

Hossa would change everything.


Blogger Jonathan said...

It's also not lost on me that the two guys that rebelled against the idiotic Stortini vs. Crosby matchup were sent out this week.

That's true, but Raffi Torres had a nice interview on the Team 1260 today and he was asked about being scratched. I don't remember exactly what he said but he kind of laughed it off and actually complimented MacTavish, so I don't think it had any long-term implications on his end at least.

7/01/2008 11:18 pm  
Blogger HBomb said...

Hossa WOULD change everything. I think of the possibilities with regards to the forwards alone and think that adding him for nothing but money would vault the vaunt right to the top of the NW.

You could:

- Feed a Cole-Horcoff-Hossa trio some nasty power vs. power time
- Use Penner-Gagner-Hemsky to "kill the soft"
- Play Moreau-Cogliano-Pisani as a 3rd line trio.

Assumption here is some sort of Nilsson move (speculation was Nilsson and Roloson to Montreal for Halak as a salary dump).

If they get Hossa, great. If it forces Souray to (say) San Jose as a salary dump, fuckin' bonus. Do that, make a Roloson move and then go find a veteran d-man off the UFA scrap heap to "replace" Souray, and I'd say they're cooking with mustard gas.

And even if they don't land Hossa, what's to say they don't target Jagr for 1-2 years at a cheaper rate? That, I'd also be OK with, because he'd be off the books in time to shift money towards Gagliano's (TM) second contracts.

I've been wide awake since 3am, anticipating what's to come today. "We've only just begun...."

7/02/2008 5:19 am  
Blogger Black Dog said...

rivers - in your opinion, is the Hossa move a good one or not?

I know we haven't the details so I'm asking you to speculate but lets say 7 years at 9 per?

7/02/2008 7:55 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Yeah, like black dog, I'm waiting for you to expand on the Hossa point. You saw him play quite a bit when you lived in Atlanta, the rest of us really haven't.

7/02/2008 8:28 am  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Well, it all depends on the term for me. If he would have signed for 6 yrs it looks just fine. Maybe $54MM with a breakdown like:


... and then I would have done that. Every added year to that structure would have hurt quite a bit I would say. 9 yrs would have been almost impossible to justify IMO.

I like Hossa a lot. His numbers are phenomenal - too many naysayers are pointing at only his most recent year, when he has a tremendous history. He played a lot of tough minutes in Atlanta - kind of flipflopping with Kovalchuk depending on the opposing coach. Not a lot of tough minutes in a shitty division like that, but if you're the #1 option or a 1A/1B like Hossa was, you're probably going to play decent players a lot.

As an example, IIRC, Martin liked to go with J-Bo's pair against Kovalchuk but matched Horton's line pretty hard against Hossa. Jokinen stayed pretty much clear of both players even on the road.

Hossa's really strong on the puck and will get after it as well. Just an incredibly strong skater, which is a great attribute for a player with a puck posession attitude. (The Red Wings will eat that shit up)

On the PP he's a definite difference maker, because he can go get the puck and he has the stick skills to assist possession and move the puck around. I think he would've been great as the LH shot in the slot with Hemsky on the LW side boards.

7/02/2008 5:56 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Vic Ferrari said...
Yeah, like black dog, I'm waiting for you to expand on the Hossa point. You saw him play quite a bit when you lived in Atlanta, the rest of us really haven't.

Do you have to watch him to be pretty sure?

Anyway, I just saw your posts out on the Oilogosphere. Obviously, you already know he's a difference maker despite the 5:30pm starts. ;)

7/02/2008 6:54 pm  

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