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D and waivers - Something has to give

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Carolina Hurricanes v Edmonton Oilers
Is he an NHLer next year? Can’t send him back to the AHL.
Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

I keep hearing that Holland will really put his mark on the team next season. The reason being that a lot of Chia garbage will be gone and he will have freedom to make signings/trades. There is a lot of truth to that but next season (2020/2021) also has a lot of concerns going forward.

To me, it appears that Holland purchased a lot of stopgaps to get himself to next season (eg. mid 20 year old guys for 1 year contracts). I understand the strategy but feel like it leaves a lot of guys with full AHL seasons behind them out of the picture. I’m for ripening but I’m very much against over ripening. The Oiler’s are historically the worst team in the NHL for rushing prospects. The Wing’s are historically the worst team in the NHL for over ripening them. Both our former GM and our current GM also have very poor histories of using cap space to reward aging veterans with high cap/term contracts.

Can we not get comprimise? I know there are exceptions to every case. Eg. a Dman takes longer than a forward. A Centre takes longer than a Winger. Generational players should walk right into the NHL. Roughly, the first 4 guys in a draft should as well. There is always an undrafted, later round pick that deserves to be in the NHL ahead of the people that were taken before him. There is no set rule(s) as every player is different.

Some basic guidelines I’d follow though:

Teenagers need to play a lot of minutes in the role they are projected to be in the NHL. Eg. if we draft a potential Top 4 Dman. I’d rather see that Top 4 Dman play Top 4 minutes in the AHL/CHL/Top Euro league then eat nachos in a pressbox at the NHL level and play 10 minutes a night every third game (we have Manning for that).

If we draft a forward, same thing. If he projects to be a top scorer then put him in a situation to score and play 20 minutes a night. If that is the NHL.. super! If it isn’t and you’re going to tell him to kill penalties, ‘dump it in’, play him 10 minutes a night with players who don’t produce offence then send him somewhere else because you’ll ruin him.

On the other side of the coin. Holding a guy till he is in his 4th pro season, never having tried him at the NHL level and then losing him to waivers is also a nightmare.

None of these guys are currently on the team for next season:

Current forwards:

I’ve put the guys in bold that I think we need to keep (or get amazing value back in trade).

Kassian, Granlund, Archibald, Haas, Nygard, Jurco, Russell, Cave, Sheahan, Gagner

** I know a lot of people on the blog are very worried that Nurse will get an insane contract/term and are not a fan of his defensive work at all. I’m not in that camp personally. However, what does everyone think Kassian is going to get? He is about to get paid big time as well. Is everyone okay with us finally getting free of Chia contracts and handing a tonne of money to Kassian? 4 x 5? 5 x 4? At 2 million and scoring and providing GRIT, I think he is a steal. It could be argued he is Chia’s best trade (along with Maroon and Talbot). Would you love him at double that into his 30s?

Current D:

Nurse, Manning, Benning, Lagesson, Bear, Persson, Jones

Current Goalies:

Smith, Starrett

IR:

Brodziak

Buyouts:

Gryba and his 300K will be gone. However, we still have Pouliot (1.3 million), Sekera (2.5 million) and Lucic (750K) taking up 3.5 million in dead salary.

Fringe AHL guys:

Vesey, Hebig, Malone, Currie, Lowe

The Good:

Gagner, Gryba, Brodziak, Smith and Manning will be off the books for about 7 million. I would love if we could resign Gagner for a much more friendly term/cap hit. He is one of my favourite all time Oiler’s and I hate that his contract has him in the AHL. Manning can go to PTO somewhere else and I do wish him the best. Smith terrifies me.

The Bad:

So we free up 7 million but most of that will go to Kassian and Nurse. The other dozen free agents we lose (or keep) are all around the 1 million salary and you have to replace them with similar 1 million dollar players. I’m not seeing us with a tonne of extra money going into next season.

The Ugly:

3.5 million is still going to Lucic, Sekera and Pouliot. We can’t keep everyone and a lot of good young D will no longer be waiver exempt.

Waivers and our D!

Why I wrote this article was my concern for our D and the waiver wire.

Starting next season, this is the list of significant players that are not waiver exempt (eg. if they don’t make the club out of camp and we send them to the AHL, we could lose them for nothing):

Persson, Lagesson, Bear, Jones, Starrett and Jesse P.

What concerns me is that we could lose Persson, Lagesson, Bear and Jones for nothing if they’re not on the roster to start next season. Most people, including me, have our future D core with some combo of those guys (and Bouchard, Broberg and Samorukov) in place.

I think we’ll know by then if Persson is a keeper or not. We’ll definitely know if Bear is or not. What about Lagesson, Jones and Starrett?

These are the D we have entering camp next season (Bouchard, Broberg and Samurokov will be waiver exempt):

Klefbom, Russel, Larsson, Bouchard, Samurokov and Broberg.

ALL of these guys need to be resigned, traded or lost for nothing (none of them will be waiver exempt):

Nurse, Manning, Benning, Persson, Bear, Jones and Lagesson.

I think we all agree that we’re fine with losing Manning. What about the rest? What kind of value in trade would a guy like Persson, Jones or Lagesson get?

The one bright spot to Larsson’s injury is that we can try out someone else in that position. Last night Bear and Persson were in the lineup for instance. Between now and April, management really needs to decide which guys we’re going with because we run a real risk of losing guys like Jones and Lagesson for free.