I'm in this contest to win. And what's better than girls in short tops holding an Oilers banner to give me an edge?
I'm not the most edumacated hockey fan in the world, but I think I know a little bit about player types, cap management and drafting that I could have done a better job than Steve Tambellini this off-season.
More after the jump...
Any good GM starts his offseason work immediately after their team's postseason chances are eliminated. This year, Tambellini had a bit of a head-start on the rest of the field. The offseason has two major windows of opportunity, the entry draft, and the beginning of free-agency period. We'll discuss those in detail.
*Disclaimer*: In my actions as armchair GM, I assume no liability in regard to injuries sustained during the course of the offseason. This fact will become readily apparent later.
Going into the entry draft, we hold the 10th overall pick in the first round, followed by picks 40, 71, 82, 101, 133, 163 and 193.
Steve Tambellini did very well with his first pick, I'll say that up front. Given the way the NHL draft panned out, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson is my first overall pick as well. He's a solid pick and definitely worth the 10th overall selection. I had him ranked as high as 5 on my pre-draft scouting board.
Where I differ from Tambellini is with teh pick at #40. Given that another of my top-15 picks has slipped considerably, I make this trade:
In all seriousness, this is a trade that works well for both teams. The Oilers have a massive stockpile of undersized scorers and can stomach the loss of one more for an amateur player I deem to be better. New Jersey slides a lot, but they're getting a very good prospect in Linus Omark. This is a trait of New Jersey, where they acquire additional assets if they're not completely satisfied with their draft slot. I think they make this deal because of the upside of Omark and another pick at 40.
With the 20th overall selection, Edmonton selects F Jordan Schroeder. Yes, he's another midget, but this one I've seen. And he's going to be an NHL player. Well worth the trade of Omark to my eyes.
With their 71st overall selection, Edmonton selects G Brian Lee. Given his standout performance at the U18s and his play in the USHL this year, he's the goaltender I covet in this year's draft.
With their 82nd pick Edmonton selects F Tomas Vincour. He's a known commodity to the Edmonton brass, a big body, and put up points. I think it's a decent selection here.
With their 101st selection Edmonton selects F Marcus Foligno. Big body who's point totals increased over two-fold from last year. PIMs also skyrocketed, almost tripling.
With pick 133, Edmonton selects D Thomas Larkin. 6'5" body with respectable point totals playing for an American High School. Kid has the body to play at the next level.
With the 163rd pick, Edmonton selects G Jaroslav Janus. Saw this kid perform at the U20s and he was absolute lights out, easily Slovakia's MVP. He's an older player (1989 birthday), but we've got some success picking overagers.
With the 193rd pick, Edmonton selects F Burke Gallimore. I've always liked what the kid brings, and he's got chemistry with another of our prospects (Milan Kytnar).
So there's the draft, 5 forwards, 1 defender, 2 goalies. Two sure-fire first rounders that will make an impact on the NHL roster within two years, some big bodies to shore up the forward prospect ranks, a mammoth defender and two goalies to battle it out for a contract.
In Free Agency, I'm including trades here.
Head coach: Craig MacTavish.
He's been here for a long time, and I believe the players have tuned him out. Simple as that. He's been a great coach, and I thank him for all the years of loyal service he's given to this proud franchise, but it's time for a new direction.
Head coach: Scott Arniel.
I've been huge on this coach because of the way he took a depleted Manitoba Moose AHL team and transformed them into serious Calder Cup condenders. He's done work in the NHL before as an assistant to Lindy Ruff in Buffalo and brings new ideas to the team. I think he'll work very well with our young players.
Further, I retain Charley Huddy as assistant coach to run the D. Don Hay (Special Teams) and Pete Peeters (goaltending) round out the coaching staff.
Let's get one thing straight. Nobody is taking on those behemoth contracts that Lowe handed out to Staios and Moreau. It's just not happening, so I'll have to make the best with the bargaining chips I've got.
My reasoning here is they're both good goaltenders, and on 1-year contracts I have the ability to scout them at a better level. My preference here is that Biron signs because he's younger and I may be able to sign him longer term if my prospects Deslauriers and Dubnyk falter.
You've got to give up talent to get talent, and I'm making a very bold move here to shore up the forward ranks. Frolov is a big body who can provide offense PVP. He can skate, he can play defense, he's the perfect second option (my first was Gagne, but Philly doesn't want a defender after they picked up Pronger before I could get my hooks in them) on the 1-line with Horcoff-Hemsky. It sucks to give up the first rounder, but I see this team improving this season to the point where the first rounder is somewhere between 20-25 overall. Given that I've double-dipped in the first round this previous draft, it's a cost I'm willing to stomach to acquire Frolov.
Important note about Grebeshkov here. He is, to my eyes, 4th of the top-4 and I really want to get Ladi Smid some more ice time, because I think he brings some good things to that spot. Grebeshkov's skills are duplicated on this roster by Lubomir Visnovsky, and in many senses, Visnovsky>Grebeshkov. Too much money for a 4th defender that I can still trade.
- Milan Kytnar
- Brent Skinner
All to two-way contracts of varying AHL salary. Specific numbers are unimportant to this discussion except in the case of Krog, Schremp and Skinner, all of whom have AHL salaries in excess of 150K (Krog's about 400K) to deter being plucked off waivers, to provide AHL farm depth.
Rob Neidermayer to a 1-year 1.5M contract. Long considered a weakness of the NHL roster is the need for a tough minutes forward to spell Moreau and Pisani. In Neidermayer, we have a Stanley Cup winner who knows what it takes to win. Hopefully he can win some faceoffs for us and take the stress of Shawn Horcoff and Kyle Brodziak.
There's my roster. I've upgraded the 1-line by taking a duplicated skillset from the defensive corps. Because of the unmovable salaries of Moreau, Staios and Pisani, I'm forced to roll with the punches. Thank you very much Kevin Lowe.
Ex: Nilsson, Brule
More NHL veterans than this team has seen in a while has pushed Cogliano to the 4th line and Nilsson to the pressbox, but that's what happens when your team is built as it should be. A first line that can outscore other team's scoring lines, a 3rd line that can handle their opponent's other scoring line, a 2-line that can make weaker lines appear stupid (at home with advantage of last change) and a 4-line with speed, defensive acumen, and Zorg.
Puckmovers and defensive defensmen highlight the top-4 pairings. Staios to act as mentor to young Peckham who brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "team toughness". Strudwick to sub in on nights when Peckham needs to see the bigger picture (read: PB time). I envision a 50/32 split between Peckham/Strudwick.
Biron (or Roloson)
A proven #1 guy at the helm with a prospect with good potential serving as the backup. I don't see any problems here, and if Deslauriers (and dubnyk) falters, there should be some veteran goaltenders available on the cheap.
Total caphit: 56.4. First call-ups inclue Krog, Schremp and Potulny for top-6 roles, Jacques and Reddox for bottom-6, MacIntyre if I need a fight specialist, Chorney for defense, and Dubnyk for goaltending.
It's a team spending to the cap, but with Uncle Pennybags (Katz) funding the bills, I'm allowed to do what I need to make this team competitive. I anticipate this team finishing 6th in the Conference.