What if the Oilers Had a Players Only Garage Sale?

I've been pondering something. Everytime I read an article on one of the many Oiler blogs related to our team deficiencies or our duplicate player skill set, I think to myself...'would these same writers feel better if the Oilers just had a huge garage sale and moved the players they can't trade to the minors?'

If you take a second to think about it, we know it's doable. If Tambellini can't move players for draft picks, deep pockets Katz could take a number of the contracts currently on the team and bury them. Funds are not an issue, the team in Springfield sure could use the help and current star NHL'ers in an AHL affiliate market would sell more tickets, which might recoup some (not all) of the cost. Sure he runs the risk of waviers coming back up, but if you're doing this move to those players, you better not care if you can get them back or not.
Here is where I'm going with this. There a number of talented and role playing NHL UFA's still on the market. Malhotra, Neidermayer, Comrie, Betts, Skyora, Robert Lang, Christian Backman, Peca, Bergeron... just to name a few that at this point will cost far less than some of the players the Oilers employ, but fans seem to want to shake. Nilsson, Pisani, Staois, Moreau, Pouliot,... come to mind in the many posts and articles I've read.
In the end, salary cap wise it's likely cheaper to go after some of these UFA's. You gain experience, skill set in certain areas, size and grit and some real motivation as a number of these guys simply want to prove they deserve a spot on an NHL team . But here is my question for readers? Is a line-up like the one below better than the potential of our current group?

Penner/Horcoff/Hemsky
Cogs/Gagner/O'Sullivan
Neidermayer/Lang/Comrie
Jacques/Betts/Stortini

Obviously other combinations are available. Compare that lineup to what we have. You get a less expensive but older group. They provide experience, grit and a sandpaper quality the current roster doesn't.
What we miss out on, is the potential. We know what the potential is for this veteran UFA group. They've reached their peak. The Edmonton Oilers as is other the other hand, have not. We think we do, but have no idea what a Robert Nilsson under the right guidance and with the right motivation is capable of? 60 - 65 points? Or Cogliano in the right position in the line-up. 30 goals?
It's an interesting debate and I'm sure one that would take a number of twists and turns if people could start putting their dream line-ups together out of the peices still on the market. I for one don't know what I'd do in the role of Oilers management.

What I do know, is that there are a lot of good leftovers on the market right now, many of whom will not have a place to play this year. Next year it will only get worse (or better if you're a team who needs cheap but valued labour).

5 comments:

Great idea -- it is about time that the Oilers went for skill instead of just speed. With the right players, skill players will score -- while speedy, less-skilled players will just skate like crazy up and down the ice -- good enough, if they work hard, to disrupt the other team's offense, but not good enough to score consistently themselves.

A couple of years ago when Nedved came over at the end of the year, we saw how pure skill could change the game. It would be good to see that again.

Anonymous
September 6, 2009 at 5:16 PM comment-delete

I don't have the energy to do this myself, lol, but the other day in a Lowetide comment thread, someone put together a pretty decent team roster from the list of currently available players. I can't find the link, but basically they asked if the current Oilers beat them in a 7 game series, and I can't say that I would be certain that we would.

Bottom line, I certainly agree that there's a lot of talented role players that are still available and likely for relative cheap contracts.

September 6, 2009 at 5:26 PM comment-delete

***Correction--I should clarify that I meant to say "from the list of currently available UFAs" rather.

September 6, 2009 at 5:28 PM comment-delete

I think you meant this:
"Sign Rob Niedermayer, Blair Betts, and Radek Bonk to cheap, one-year contracts. Niedermayer would likely command about $1 million, Betts around 600K, and Bonk somewhere in the $1.4 million range. We'd be adding $3 million in salary, the equivalent of trading Nilsson for pick(s)/prospect(s) and Staios for a guy like Sean O'Donnell (adding picks as necessary). Leaving the Oilers with:

Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky
Cogliano-Gagner-O'Sullivan
Niedermayer-Bonk-Pisani
Moreau-Betts-Stortini"

September 7, 2009 at 1:26 AM comment-delete

I did read that post and one of the reasons I thought to ask the main question posed in this article.

If it's possible to do, why haven't the Oilers done it yet? The only answer I can come up with, is that they truly believe they have the talent to play better than what is available.

I'm not sure I agree, but I believe the potential is much better with the current roster.

I also agree that it might not cost more than the numbers suggested to pick up players like Bonk, Betts... my guess is that Betts is invited to camp to tryout.

September 7, 2009 at 10:04 AM comment-delete

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