Help me fellas
It's gettin' kind-a late
Runnin' out of precious time
She might pass me while I waste
All my blue moon nights
--John Fogerty, "Blue Moon Nights"
The Edmonton Oilers resigned Gilbert Brule and Ladislav Smid yesterday. The words that the Oilers are using in conversations regarding Gilbert Brule point towards a few things - namely the last stand of a couple of players within the organization. Who is running out of precious time within the organization?
Jeff Deslauriers - The Oilers went out of their way and bid against themselves to sign an aging goalie to a long-term deal. Deslauriers is now sandwiched between Khabibulin and Dubnyk and is out of time. I don't know that the kid will ever catch on.
Ethan Moreau - He'll be 34 years old for the upcoming season, making at least $600,000 too much per year. He has two years left on his deal and should not be an Oiler to finish that contract. A young team looking for the proverbial "playoff warrior" will take him on.
Marc Pouliot - He's on his last leg, actually, more like his last toe. The previous coach disliked him a great deal, and the organization has never made an effort to find him some consistency in ice time. He may not be in Edmonton to start the season, and that would be a shame - he's one of the few Oilers that could outplay his contract. He will be a reliable player for a few years for some NHL team.
Rob Schremp - He's living on borrowed time. The Oilers have been trying to move him for months and have found no takers. His game has the same holes that it did four years ago and he'll likely be a European league power-play maven sometime in the near future. The Schremp camp will shriek like banshees on fire every time someone updates his Euro stat line.
Steve Staios - Steady Steve has two years left on Kevin Lowe's mistake. He's getting $2,700,000 per year - about $1,200,000 too much for a well-run team. If the Oilers are faltering in March, he'll be sent out to a team that needs a reliable 6th defender for the playoff battles. My prediction is Pittsburgh.
Robert Nilsson, Dustin Penner and J.F. Jacques do not make this list, and with good reason. The previous coach combined his professional failings with management's inability to field a lineup to his liking and took it out on a few players - namely Penner, Nilsson, Pouliot and Kyle Brodziak. A new coach should, at the very least, be open to starting at square one with each of these gentlemen. Penner is a big man that seems to bring out the best in his linemates with his offensive zone game, something that doesn't exist anywhere else in this organization outside of an 18-year-old in Finland. Nilsson possesses an extremely high level of skill and amazing hands - two of his passes in 08-09 stand out as top three non-Hemsky highlights on the season. He never seemed to have an idea of what he should be doing for the previous coach. Whether that was on him or the coach -- a new coach will give him a chance to prove himself. J.F. Jacques is an enormous man with speed and high-level AHL hands, but in his small NHL sample size, his traditional stats are abysmal. He'll get more chances with the Oilers and eventually with other clubs -- did I mention he's an enormous man with speed and high-level AHL hands?