The Edmonton Oilers added nine NHL hopefuls over the weekend. Each of those players is now one step closer to NHL employment and each of those guys rightly feels pretty good today. But today isn't just a day to look forward to what these young men might bring the organization in the future; today is also the deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to their restricted free agents (this is your last reminder, Dale!), which for some young men will be a step in the exact wrong direction. One year ago, Marc Pouliot learned that the Oilers had no interest in paying him to play in the NHL, and throughout the summer he learned that no other NHL teams were interested in giving him that guarantee either. It's a harsh business.
This year, the Oilers come in with thirty-seven contracts already signed for the 2010-11 season and twelve restricted free agents on the roster. That leaves one contract spot left if the Oilers qualify all twelve guys. It isn't going to happen. Which of these young men are on the outs this year? I'll take a look after the jump.
Ladislav Smid - QO: $1,400,000; one way deal - One of three guys that will definitely be qualified, Smid isn't due a huge raise or anything, but he's pretty good value at that price, even if he does start the year on the bottom pairing (which he should).
Andrew Cogliano - QO: $1,000,000; one-way deal - The man is a stone-cold lock to get qualified. Derek has about fifteen different unrestricted free agents penciled in ahead of Cogliano as the man in the middle on the third line, but the fact is, Cogliano likely has at least one more year as an Oiler.
Ryan O`Marra - QO: $735,000; two-way deal ($70,000) - I hope that they cut him loose but think that they might hold onto him since he still doesn't have enough experience to count as an AHL veteran, and played really well with high-end players at that level. If the priority is Oklahoma City, he'll get a contract. If the priority is Edmonton, they'll cut him loose. Here's hoping for the latter.
Taylor Chorney - QO: $735,000; two-way deal ($62,500) - They might cut him loose, but I doubt it. Chorney's another guy who doesn't qualify as an AHL vet, but he does have fifty NHL games under his belt and is coming off a strong year in Oklahoma; he's a pretty decent option at ninth or tenth on the NHL depth chart. I've got to think that the waiver risk is virtually nil and even if he does get claimed, at least you get a little bit of money when you lose him. I'd qualify him for sure, but he's heading back to the minors.
Zack Stortini - QO: $735,000; two-way deal ($37,500) - They couldn't move him for a pick at the draft, and I hope for his sake that Stortini is interested in moving on. The Oilers have moved on at the NHL level, so hopefully they give him their blessing and wave good-bye.
Jean-Francois Jacques - QO: $676,000; two-way deal ($37,500) - He's been good at the AHL level before and with 310 games under his belt as a professional he might be a nice fit in Oklahoma City (teams are permitted to carry one guy who starts the year with 260 to 320 games of pro experience in addition to their five veterans) to see if he can't get his career back on track. Of course, I'd much rather cut him loose and get some better hockey players.
Matt Marquardt - QO: $660,000; two-way deal ($62,500) - This cat definitely isn't getting a qualifying offer, and probably won't get a two-way deal from anyone. Marquardt will either need to take an AHL-only contract from somebody or find a new career.
Liam Reddox - QO: $605,000; two-way deal ($90,000) - He's already gone to Europe, and there's no point in retaining his rights, so the Oilers definitely take the contract slot here. Reddox might pull a Brad Moran and come back to the NHL in a few years, but at this point, I think the young man is likely just following the guaranteed money (as he should).
Theo Peckham - QO: $605,000; two-way deal ($37,500) - On my reading of the CBA this one can be a two-way offer, but I'm not totally sure of that. Here's the relevant section of the CBA (emphasis mine):
A Club's Qualifying Offer must be a One-Way Qualifying Offer if the applicable Player has: (A) actually played (excluding games missed for injury, illness or disability) 180 or more NHL Games in the previous three (3) NHL Seasons, (B) played at least sixty (60) NHL Games in the previous NHL Season, and (C) not cleared Waivers in the period between the 12th day prior to the commencement of the previous Regular Season and the end of a Club's previous Playing Season.
That little "and" sure makes it seem like all three criteria need to be met. Anyroad, it doesn't much matter with Peckham since, despite being overwhelmed at times this year, he's not a guy that's going to have difficulty getting a one-way contract, and I expect he'll get something north of that $605,000 figure too. Here's hoping the Oilers start him as the seventh man on the blueline and keep this deal under a million.
Bryan Pitton - QO: $550,000; two-way deal ($55,000) - I still can't believe Pat Quinn never let this kid play. What a terrible decision. Pitton's not getting a qualifying offer, and I'll be shocked if anyone gives him a two-way deal. Just not very good.
Kevin Montgomery - QO: $550,000; two-way deal ($50,000) - Montgomery came over from Colorado at the deadline and played well in Oklahoma City. He was some combination of banged up and healthy scratched for some of the playoffs, but I think he showed enough to get another contract, especially since he doesn't qualify as an AHL veteran for (at least) two more seasons.
Jordan Bendfeld - QO: $539,000; two-way deal ($60,000) - Jordan Bendfeld is not a very good hockey player at the AHL level. Retaining him would be really stupid, and I think that's obvious enough for the Oilers to walk away. Then again, that's what I thought about Cameron Abney and now we've got that guy for three years.
In the end, I hope that they extend offers to Smid, Cogliano, Chorney, Peckham, and Montgomery, which would leave them with forty-two total contracts, and enough room on their reserve list to sign three or four more guys for the big club and one or two for the Barons and yet still have some flexibility once training camp arrives in case someone you like pops up on waivers.