I hate to be cheezy and steal a line from Jason Gregor, but it truly is The Summer of Steve. After the abysmal off season in which only Nik Khabibulin and Mike Comrie, and injuries and illness ravaged the team in what was an epic fail of a season, the bright hope of getting the privalege of drafting Taylor Hall starts a new beginning of the Oilers.
On this particular blog here, I am going to grade, move by move, the off-season of the Edmonton Oilers. I will keep it updated and heavily edited as moves transpire.
C+ Coaching changes - Considering I'm not sure what is coming in yet so this grade can change. I wasn't a fan of moving out Rob Daum. I think he is an excellant hockey and a creator of excellant systems, much like Tom Renney of the big club. I guess we'll have to wait and see who the replacement will be, but I think it will be awfully difficult to improve on Rob Daum. I'm hearing Don Hay as a potential replacement, I'm kinda meh on this decision, but Don Hay as a nice resume, however most of it at the junior ranks. Pat Quinn getting ousted really stunk. I bet he really wanted to sink his mitts into Taylor Hall, but alas won't get the oppurtunity. Its too bad, because I thought the combo of Quinn/Renney had the chance to be something special, but it wasn't going to work if Quinn didn't trust Renney's ideas, which ultimately led to the undoing of the tandem. We'll have to see who's coming in to see how it affects the grade. I'll leave it as a C for now, I'm not a big fan of the moves, but I understand why they did them. For the record, I like Renney as a head coach, but they are going to have to bring in someone to be the heavy.
B- The draft - When you draft Taylor Hall, you had yourself a good draft. And the Oilers filled a lot of holes in their prospect system. But I felt they left a lot on the table. It was as if they were testing the scouts as they drafted players from all corners of the world. The Oilers had a good draft, that had the potential to be a great draft. You can see how I felt it shook down on my draft round page on this blog.
B Qualifying RFAs - Qualifying the likes of Gagner, Cogliano, Brule, et al right down to the likes of JF Jacques, Liam Reddox and the two goaltenders. These were no brainer moves, the organization is slowly building prospect depth, but its not there yet, so qualifying O'Marra and Reddox will help the AHL team and build depth. The ballsy moves came when they decided not to qualify Ryan Potulny and Marc Pouliot. This move comes with the good and the bad, on one hand you have Potulny coming off a year of 15 goals and looking to cash in. I'm with the Oilers on this as in, I don't piss around with this because players like this are a dime a dozen. Same goes for Pouliot, the Oilers need a more gritty bottom six, and both of these players don't have a penchant for that. But on the other hand, I had these players slotted as my extra forwards for this upcoming season and the reason being is that if injuries inevitably occur, they can slot in anywhere in the lineup for the short term until the reinforcemants come. I still think the Oilers will need 2 players like this and two players who understand their roles as pressbox bunnies. So, as you can tell, I'm still torn on this decision, we'll see what Tambellini has up his sleeve.
A+ Buyouts - Robert Nilsson got officially bought out. Thank you. This was a long time coming, and watching Robert Nilsson play hockey infuriates me to no end. Skilled one minute, doesn't give a damn the next. I curse out Ales Hemsky for this kind of play but he has twice the skill of Robert Nilsson, so good bye to bad rubbish. Columbus did Oiler nation a humongous favor by claiming Ethan Moreau on waivers meaning the Oilers don't have to pay him a nickel for next year. Thank you for being a soldier for many years, but your time has come and time for the Oilers to move in a new and better direction.
C- Trade - Patrick O'Sullivan for Jim Vandermeer - Oiler nation seems to think we some how fleeced the Phoenix Coyotes on this deal, the fact is they pulled down our pants and spanked our asses. They turfed Vandermeer and in turn bought out Patrick O'Sullivan. Essentially they got rid of two players they didn't want at a less of a buyout cap hit. Instead of having to buyout a contract at 1.6 mil over two years, they bought out O'Sullivan at 1.3 mil, front loaded. The Oilers, instead of buying out Vandermeer, have decided he'll be a 2.3 mil cap hit, for a 5/6 Dman. So, the problem I have with this is, I have Peckham and Johnson pegged as the 5/6 on this team, so either Vandermeer will oust one of them out into the 7th D, or he will be the most expensive 7th Dman in the NHL next year. Either way, I'm not longing for a last pairing of Vandermeer/Peckham as both are long on toughness and try, but short on skill and hockey sense. So, unless they are playing other teams dregs and not get exposed, or injury doesn't arise where they have to play top 4 minutes. They should be fine, otherwise, they will get exposed like Jason Strudwick against the Chicago Black Hawks. I guess you can look at this deal two ways, You get Vandermeer and lose O'Sullivan, or you buyout O'Sullivan and resign Aaron Johnson. The price is likely to be negligible. I guess the kicker for me is, Johnson has some ability to play top 4 minutes for a few games at a time, Vandermeer doesn't have this ability at all.
B The signing of Kurtis Foster - Its a 50/50 in that the future can still alter the grade on this signing. Depending on viewpoint it can be a solid signing or a lack of foresight signing. If Foster is here to be a 5/6 Dman, its a solid signing at 2 yrs, 1.8 mil/yr. If he's here to be the #4, I think the defense depth is hurt by that, especially if the 5/6/7 are a hybrid of Vandermeer/Peckham/Strudwick. If the Oilers bring in a legit #4, then this is a solid move, if they don't, not much for depth.
A The signing of Colin Fraser - Good money, good term, good value for a 4th line C. 2yrs, 825K/yr.
B- The signing of Jason Strudwick - Strudwick has been a good soldier for the Oilers. As a 7th Dman, he'll be fine, but with the defense as a unit is held together like a stack of cards. It could very well be the case once again that Strudwick sees 70 games again this year. The defense got a lot of tougher, but a lot less skilled and a lot less effective against speed. Term is 1yr 725K.
C+ The signing of Steve MacIntyre - I understand the Oilers need for an enforcer type. I'm just not sure MacIntyre is that guy anymore. When someone breaks your face, you have to forgive the fact that its tough to get back in the ring after that. I guess McIntyre was the best option left after the likes of Boogaard, Ivanans and Scott were long gone. Laraque was also on the board at this point, but I guess at this point, its picking the lesser of two evils. MacIntyre is pretty much a scarecrow at this point, if anything he, along with Strudwick, will be good for the room. Term is 1yr 500K.