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.