Although I haven't seen the terms confirmed at any of the traditional sources, it sounds like the Oilers have signed Alexandre Giroux, the 2008-09 AHL Most Valuable Player, to a one-way contract. According to the same source Giroux claims to have had offers from the New York Islanders and a substantially larger financial offer from the KHL. It seems obvious, then, that Giroux has been assured he'll have a legitimate chance to make this club out of camp. Giroux spent 2003-04 and 2005-06 in the Rangers organization, so there's a good chance that Tom Renney is somewhat familiar with his game, although you'd like to think he's a better player today than he was four years ago.
The numbers would seem to bear that out. Giroux has had incredible success for several seasons at the AHL level but, now twenty-eight, still hasn't established himself as a full-time NHL player. In his last two seasons with the Hershey Bears he scored 139 goals and 116 assists in 181 regular season and playoff games. Size has never been a concern as Giroux stands 6'3'' and over 200 lbs. I love having guys like this around because they serve as a warning to any young hot-shot with an entitlement complex. You might be big and you might have talent, heck you might be the best God damn player in the whole fucking AHL (I've been watching Deadwood on DVD), and even then you might not make it. Players like Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Jordan Eberle may want to make the Edmonton Oilers out of camp. Alex Giroux is desperate. If he gets beat out for a job, it won't be due to lack of try, and that's for sure.
More on this signing and what it means for both the NHL and AHL roster after the jump.The lesson of Jean-Francois Jacques is that there are some players who can put up gaudy totals in the AHL that are just plain awful when they move up a level. Charles Linglet was the same way: close to a point per game in the AHL and just terrible in his five games with the Oilers. He only played nine games with the Capitals last season and that's not a lot to go on, but it should serve as something of a warning that he was badly outshot while he was on the ice, although the faceoff distribution (22 OZ and 32 DZ) certainly didn't do him any favours. I'm of course hopeful that the man is a player but by far the best part of this signing is that, even if we need to learn the lesson of Jean-Francois Jacques again, it's now a lot more likely to happen, it may take Jacques' roster spot to make it happen.
And that's the take-away for fans of the Oklahoma City Barons. Whether it's Alexandre Giroux or Jean-Francois Jacques or Jordan Eberle or Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, it's one more quality player who isn't going to make the Oilers out of camp and who will start the year in OKC. Here's a list of all of the forwards the Oilers have under control (signed or RFA's) for the upcoming season:
Sure NHLers - Horcoff, Hemsky, Penner, Gagner, Cogliano, Brule, Jones, Stortini, Fraser.
Possible NHLers - Hall, MacIntyre, Giroux, Eberle, Omark, Paajarvi-Svensson, Jacques, Reddox.
Sure AHLers (or lower) - O'Marra, Hartikainen, Vande Velde, Kytnar, Marquardt.
It seems likely to me that only half of the players on that "possible" list will start the year in the NHL if the Oilers don't sign another forward - and they had better sign some other forwards - and everyone is healthy coming out of camp (let us pray). At the AHL level, all of those guys are good players (save MacIntyre) and some of them are difference-makers. If the Oilers are serious about making the AHL club better, there's still work to do, but this has been a good start.