What's the Right Price for Prospal?

Tuesday it was learned that the Tampa Bay Lightning had bought out the remaining three years on the contract of Vaclav Prospal as a way to save on the salary cap and do what a lot of speculators are guessing -- add another forward to their line-up -- perhaps Alex Tanguay.

It was seemingly a quick decision and has sparked some debate; but no where more than Edmonton, where the Oilers badly need an upgrade at the first line LW position. Could Prospoal be the answer? I'd normally say no the way the Oilers have to overspend to attract certain players, but at the right price, I'd consider it.

The Upside:

Prospal has been an 80 point player twice. (Well almost... in 2002/2003 with the Tampa Bay Lightning and playing with players like Lecavalier and St. Louis he scored 79 points.) Add to that he's been a 20 goal scorer four times and hit the 19 goal mark twice, including last year when everyone in Tampa seemed to have a poor year. Despite his streaky play, Prospal is an offensive threat a power play guy and versatile foward and always has been. A player who likes to shoot, Prospal would have ranked in the Oilers top 3 forwards in shots taken each of the last few years. No forward on the roster for Edmonton even comes close to what Prospal has done and I included Hemsky in that list.

At 6' and 195 lbs, he does have a tendency to play a somewhat physical game because he's not a small forward like the Oilers seem to have an abundance of and he stays extremely healthy having played 80 plus games in all of his last 7 seasons. Furthermore, despite the knock that he disappears in the playoffs, that argument doesn't seem to hold true. In 2007/08 with the Flyers he had 13 points in 17 games, in 2006/07 he had 5 points in 6 games with Tampa and in 2002/03 a modest 6 points in 11 games.

Here's the stat I like. His face off percentage is fantastic. Last season 53%, 2007/08 he was 55.7% and in 2006/07 he was 52.4% from the dot with 2005/06 being the only blip since the lock-out at just over 45%.

These are all elements the Oilers have been looking for.

The Downside:

Prospal is no spring chicken. At 34, it can be argued he's starting the down-slope of his career. This argument though can really only be based on his last season in which his totals were down and he was very poor plus/minus - 20. So too, he's not really ever been considered first line material and that is what the Oilers seem to need. Sure, it can be argued the Oilers don't have the offensive depth that Tampa and Philly had, keeping Prospal on the 2nd line on those two teams, but this is a perfect example of why the Oilers have been in the Heatley sweepstakes so long -- first line dominant offensive LW players don't grow on trees.

Prospals +/- rating has always been somewhat low with the exception of the few games he played with the Flyers in 07/08 after his move at the trade deadline, but very few players in Tampa were plus players last year; which should be no surprise to anyone.

The Verdict

I'd like to see the Oilers make a call and express some interest if Prospal can be had for the right price. After the 24 hours Prospal has to either accept the buyout from the team, or choose to go through waivers he'll become an unrestricted free agent.

If Prospal chooses the buy-out, he'll be paid $1.167 for the next six seasons. This could lead to a pretty good deal for the next team he plays with, since he'll be getting more than one paycheck as long as he seemingly continues to play hockey in the NHL and may not require a big contract from his new squad.

To me, the right price is $2.5 million. For that, he can be tried as first line LW if no other solution presents itself before Oiler camp opens. If it does, then that price is respectable for a guy on the 2nd line. Should that not work, he can play center and if his offensive numbers are down, at least he can win you face offs. $2.5 is high for a third line center, but not one that also has the ability to play first line LW and on your power play.

Anything more I think is too high a price tag for a couple reasons. First, the ability to sign a temporary but strong offensive player still exists in free agency (although it's somewhat down to slim pickin's) and the Oilers have Dustin Penner and Patrick O'Sullivan, both who deservedly should be on your top two lines.

What would you do?


I would definitely have the Oilers take a serious look at Prospal, especially if he is in the 2M range ... one would hope that he would take a short term deal for around that to prove his worth. I don't think the Oilers should talk long term with him based solely on his age.

My guess is that the Oilers are either going to shit or get off the pot with Heatley and if they bail on Heater, then Vinny might be the next best solution.

BTW ... do you happen to know why a player would not accept a buyout offer and go on waivers instead? I assume its so he can keep making what he's making but face the possibility of playing in the minors if nobody picks him up?

July 29, 2009 at 2:16 PM comment-delete

I might suggest that Prospal would consider waivers only if he feels he won't get fair market value if he accepts the buy-out when signing with someone else or thinks no one else will claim him and he can stay in Tampa where he wants to be.

More often than not players can make more money accepting it (see Darcy Tucker), but the odd case (Todd Bertuzzi argues the contrary).

While Prospal did (does) have a no trade and he is extremely partial to wanting to stay in Tampa, I suspect he'll accept the buy-out though.

July 29, 2009 at 2:23 PM comment-delete

first of al...I believe you guys have it all wrong.....prospal isn't going to get us in the playoffs and win a cup....here's my take on things, and I you are more than welcome to give feedback.....
AQndrew cogliano is absolutely brutal at face-offs.....Horcoff is NOT a first line centre, Gagner's number's significantly improved while playing with Hemsky....Gagner and Cogs had a good first year playing together before all the line-juggling crap got in the way....Cogliano had 18 goals last year, and also the best shooting percentage by far of any of the Oilers decent forwards, and is also a left-handed shooter. My proposal is this.....first of all....we have too many small forwards and not a lot of cap space.....free up some. Smid's gonna go, anyway and someone will definitely want him. Package a deal up with him and Nilsson.....for draft picks....should get a pretty decent pick or two. Next, it might be kinda nice to unload Staios, although it might be difficult with his 2.7 mill/ contract, I still think there might be a team that doesn't have cap issues that could use him. (We also have too many D-men, and could definitely use to develope some. That would free up 4.7 million dollars for us. Malhotra would be a very nice addition since we need someone that has exactly all of his traits....face-off winner, decent size, a little grit, and a good penalty killer. We could get him for around 2.3 m and, for around three years.
so..our new and improved team looks like this..
fill-ins----and I do believe that since Pisani is on the final year of his hefty 2.5 m/ contract, he could be scratched, (maybe Moreau or Pouliot, as well), a few times to enable the likes of: Schremp, Brule, McIntyre, Stone, Minard, and Jaques some time on the big club....not too keen on Jaques, or Reddox... and maybe Brule or Schremp in front of Potulny, depending on how they perform....Schremp had some chemistry with Pouliot.

fill-ins: Chorney, Plante, Arsene, Motin, Nickerson

leaves us with about 3.5 million worth of cap space with Pisani's 2.5 coming off the books next year. I'm not overly impressed with the goaltending situation, simply because Khabibulin could get hurt leaving the reigns to Deslauriers and Dubnyk. Although, I like the signing of the Bulin wall because of what he could bring to our young goalies.
Also, I am very impressed with the coaching we have aqcuired....and feel that my sollution would make this team more of a contender now, and certainly give us a better chance to keep the core together for future success....I think Tambi has done quite a good job, so far, but, I think trading guys to get a top six forward would be a mistake.....thoughts, comments?

July 29, 2009 at 9:59 PM comment-delete

Wow, lot to digest there in one comment, but I'll do my best.

I don't think Prospal gets us in the cup. In fact in many conversations I've had I usually make sure to say more would need to come if we did indeed sign him to be considered a much better hockey team. What I was trying to get at with this article, is that for the right price, I'd consider Prospal because he adds a lot of elements the Oilers are missing including face-off percentage, size, shoot first mentality. I do concede that signing him creates questions with what to do with the talent you do have.

I'm not sold that Horcoff is not a first line center. I think there are better first line centers, but believe with someone to assist in the many jobs expected of Horcoff, his offensive #'s would go back up and we'd not be so hard on him as a 1st line guy. He has shown years where he has potential to be a point a game.

Gagner has been inconsistent, but I see him being more solid year round, I like Smid but am willing to package him with Nilsson if the right return is there. I don't think a high draft pick is enough for me to like that trade.

Staois I believe should go as I see Peckham almost if not ready for the big time. And I don't see Malhotra signing in Edmonton for $2.3. I think he's worth that and no more, but the Oilers would have to overpay to get him.

I like our coaching and should the Oilers not be able to make any changes, I expect a better result than last year as guys like Penner, O'Sullivan, Pisani and Nilsson play better hockey.

July 29, 2009 at 10:41 PM comment-delete

Oh ya and I like Khabibulin, but am not totally sold yet on the 4 year contract. I think he was the best quality goalie available, but other options were there. If the big question was available cap space, Khabibulin is not the way to save on your cap.

July 29, 2009 at 10:44 PM comment-delete

wellll....you are right about Horcoff...he definitely had a lot to take on and could be the first line center., and Gagner was somewhat inconsistent, although he did thrive near the end of the year, and seemed to have something going while playing with Hemmer. I think Cogs would defnitely benefit from playing with Hemsky, as well and might turn into a 25 goal scorer at minimum this year, providing the chemistry is there, and, he shoots the puck more often. I also enjoyed the article you wrote about O'sullivan...who does shoot the puck a lot. He might fit in there as well. I just think it might be a good idea to give Gagner a shot in there and see how things work out.
My price on Maholtra might be a little low, however, the numbers didn't come to me without heavily researching it first.
I was quite disappointed to see Craig Anderson signed by the Avs for peanuts, as well.

July 29, 2009 at 11:09 PM comment-delete

I like the idea of Cogs on a wing. Whether it's second or even a crack at first line, he's going to need to be tried instead of at center. I see him having a better year, but also predict a slow start if they try him at wing, since he's not a natural there.

I really would like to see O'Sullivan given a shot for 10 games or so as first line LW and thanks for the kind words about the article.

Craig Anderson was a good pick up by Colorado. I think he might have been too unproven for the Oilers as a starter, but with the Avs it makes good sense and he could be great.

July 30, 2009 at 12:13 AM comment-delete

Post a Comment

More To Read