Bringing in Veterans vs Sticking With Youth

Here's a list of some of the veterans who have become available and either caught fans interest or been slightly rumored possible future Oiler: (average stats over the last 3 years are provided as well)

Nikolai Zherdev : 78 games 19 goals 30 assists for 50 points
Vaclav Prospal: 81 games 22 goals 35 assists for 57 points
Alex Tanguay: 69 games 18 goals 41 assists for 60 points
Manny Malhotra: 76 games 10 goals 19 assists for 29 points

Here's a list of the forwards the Oilers are working with that have been the discussion of trade, waiver or demotion: (I've tried to list them in a similar skill order, or at least according to their role on the team)

Dustin Penner: 80 games 23 goals 20 assists for 43 points
Patrick O'Sullivan: 69 games 14 goals 24 assists for 38 points
Robert Nilsson: (only count 2 seasons since one was only a total of 4 games) 67 games 9.5 goals 25.5 assists for 35 points
Andrew Cogliano: (only played 2 seasons) 82 games 18 goals 23.5 assists for 41 points

What does this tell us?

Of these four veteran UFA's, all of them with the exception of Andrew Cogliano over Manny Malhotra would have been an improvement offensively and proven bet for the Oilers versus what Pat Quinn has at his disposal now.

All four of these UFA's are still available, and all four of them can probably be had for a decent price. So too, even though Tambellini says this is a contracts going out vs those coming in issue, all four of the players on our current list of available forwards can be moved to make space if it was required and doing so would create enough cap room to add three if not all four of those listed UFA's.


Each list of four players brings a few elements that are different to their style of play and should be accounted for if we're going to make this kind of comparison. Malhotra can win you face-offs, but Cogliano can't. Penner is a big body in front of the net on the power play whose purpose is to score goals not get assists. Tanguay and Zherdev are more assist men than anything else and don't really bring that physical presence.

Furthermore, all of the players on the Oiler's list are younger than the age of 26 while all of the players on the UFA list are over the age of 25. (I actually thought when I first started making this comparison that the age variation would be greater. Only Prospal brings with him a question of age). You can take this age factor and draw your own conclusion. Obviously if you're of the feeling that youth gets better, you'll like the Oilers age. If you'd rather haven proven career numbers to work with, all of the players on the UFA list have the experience the Oilers could use. So too, most of those players have had better seasons one of the years outside the three year average I used.

What Do I Think?

If the Oilers want us to believe we are rebuilding, stick with the youth. Unfortunately, they never actually come out and say that. They always contend we're a playoff team and do crazy things like grab a 36 year old goalie or offer up three of their up and coming stars for Dany Heatley.

The Oilers actions suggest they want to win and now. To do so means going with a roster far more proven than the inconsistent group we currently watch 82 times a year. Surprisingly, only Dustin Penner actually has showed his ability to maintain somewhat of a offensive pace, with Andrew Cogliano on his way there too. O'Sullivan's numbers were hurt by a first season average that saw him play only half a season so maybe a rush to judgement there would be unfair, but if I want to win now, Prospal, Zherdev and Tanguay all seem to make more sense.

What we can't measure are whether or not these players have interest in coming to Edmonton or the results that bringing in players with this experience and track record would do for the other players on this team namely the Fernando Pisani's, Ethan Moreau's Ales Hemsky's and Shawn Horcoff's. Whenever you bring in players who have shown that despite the teams and players they've played with over a longer career, you can almost bet that in some ways the numbers of your current players working with rookies and unproven talent would have to improve.

When you don't, you count of reliable two-way players to play a much more defensive, scrambly style of play to make up for rookie mistakes. That took a lot out of a player like Horcoff last year.

What Do You Think?


I think they need to bring in 1 or 2 vets to take pressue off of some of the young guys.

Management made significant minor league signings to bolster the Springfield Falcons in order to create a winning atmosphere for developing youth. The strategy should be used in the big club. Even if vets are brought in on 1 year deals that will give 1 more year to see what kind of NHL center Pouliot can be made into before throwing him to the wolves.

Signing Tanguay and Malhotra virtually guarantees the Oilers make the playoffs IMO. Guys like Gagner, Cogliano and O'Sullivan have never played in the playoffs and will benefit from making the post season.

Nilsson no longer fits on the roster. His $2M should be better put to use by bringing in guys that are established. Tambellini needs to put Katz' money where his mouth is and make a move to improve this club.

August 8, 2009 at 12:38 PM comment-delete

I think people have given up too quickly on Robert Nilsson - he is one of the smartest of the Oilers (a natural ability to think hockey). Should we trade him, he will emerge into a 25 goal a season hockey player. I think he is just on the verge to break out. His plus/minus shows that he is not a liability.

August 10, 2009 at 9:56 AM comment-delete

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