The Crescendo

Its been a rough spring to be a Oilers fan trying to speculate on what moves will be made for next year. By most accounts its looking like we will see the same team next year as we did this year. This does not, however, prevent the rest of the teams from making some interesting moves during the summer. Ottawa and Buffalo stand out as two teams clearly not happy with how their seasons went and may be looking to make a shakeup. Putting trades aside free agency provides some interesting opportunities.

The UFA market is lacking in real block buster talent. You have Hossa who may or may not stay with the Pens but then you have guys like Brian Campbell, Mats Sundin, and Joe Sakic who likely won't be going anywhere (Sundin/Sakic for obvious reasons, Campbell because the Sharks need him too much). As well the Goaltending market is relatively stable (as pointed out by Mirtle) so you won't get a lot of action there, though Emerygate 2008 should provide some interesting dramatics or at least if anything average T.V.

That leaves us with a very interesting crop of R.F.A.'s to be had for an expensive contract and your best draft picks. Names like Bouwmeester, Carter, Green, Weber, Bouchard, Svatos, and yes our dearest Pitkanen fill an impressive list. The supply and demand along with a growing cap tell us that something has to happen. This year could provide with quite a few offer sheets being tendered by teams looking for a quicker rebuild.

Last summer saw the Oilers sign two players to offer sheets, a duty that has made Kevin Lowe the Lex Luthor of the NHL. So now that he has started punching babies and kicking dogs the other 29 GM's can follow suit with much less risk of villainy. The history of offer sheets shows us that it has been around for awhile and if anything Lowe just took it to the next level. A brief history since 1997:

  • Dustin Penner - 2007 - signed to a 5 year, $21.5 million contract from Edmonton
    • Accepted and Anaheim received 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks in 2008
  • Thomas Vanek - 2007 - signed to a 7 year, $50 million contract from Edmonton
    • Buffalo Matched
  • Ryan Kesler - 2006 - signed a 1 year, $1.9 million contract from Philidelphia
    • Vancouver Matched
  • Sergei Fedorov - 1998 - signed a 6 year, $38 million from Carolina
    • Detroit Matched
  • Mattias Ohlund - 1997 - signed a 5 year, $10 million contract & $7.5 million signing bonus from Toronto
    • Vancouver Matched
  • Chris Gratton - 1997 - signed a 5 year, $16.5 million contract from Tampa Bay
    • Accepted and Philidelphia got four 1st round picks, traded back to the Flyers for Mikael Renberg and Karl Dykhuis with Flyers picking up part of Renberg's salary
  • Joe Sakic - 1997 - signed a 3 year, $21 million contract from New York
    • Colorado Matched
This list is going to grow this summer and I have a feeling teams won't be as willing to match. With a Cap system now there are a few teams who put themselves in prime position to be poached. Remember when New Jersey was having cap problems and snuck out the back door with the Mogiliny deal? They are a prime example of a team that had an RFA (Parise) that could have been had for a slight over pay. More and more GM's are going to be using offer sheets and Brian Burke may be the last man standing in the past.


Jonathan said...

I'm a little surprised that none of these RFA signings have come from divisional rivals. It seems to me that a signing like Philadelphia attempted with Ryan Kesler has a two-fold purpose; if it's unmatched you get a decent player for minimal compensation (2nd rounder), and if it's matched you reduce the ability of teams within your division to sign their players.

A good example (if it had been allowed to occur) would have been the Flames signing Grebeshkov to a 2-yr, 2.5 million dollar contract. Either we give him up for minimum return, or we sign him at a million more than we needed to.

Jon G said...

Do you think that the Oilers are going to dangle Pitkanen on the open market to see what they can get?

Backhand said...

You would have to. Any sort of enticing offer from another team and he is gone.

He is skill is replicated on this team in Grebeshkov (to a lesser degree) and he will likely want too much money.

IMO its 50/50 he stays.

Rory said...

I say Pitkanen is gone, Buffalo needs defensemen and they are in somewhat of a "re-building" phase compared to previous off seasons.