Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the hot topic of discussion of late after seeing Gabriel Landeskog sign for a contract extension for $5.57 annually. Some fans think Nuge is worth more and some think the Edmonton Oilers would be crazy to give him anywhere near that.
Sam Gagner recently signed on for the three seasons with the Edmonton Oilers and I started to think about what his upside was and who he compares to long term. One name that immediately came to mind was Joe Pavelski, who has turned into a pretty darn good second line center in San Jose.
What about Ryan Smyth? Ryan Smyth was a first round pick for the Oilers in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft (#6 overall), but he wasn’t their first choice in that draft- that honor went to Jason Bonsignore at #4. The Oilers pick of Smyth eased the pain of the Bonsignore selection (the original #64 was last seen running a small amusement park somewhere in New York state). What followed was a career for Smyth which weaved through 17 NHL seasons- most of which were for the Edmonton Oilers. The 2013-14 NHL season represents the last season of Smyth’s current contract and after 2 goals in 47 games last season, how will the Oilers elder statesman be used this fall? Will this season be his last? Should it?
Better know a new Oiler: Philip Larsen- With my last few posts centred around newcomers to the Oilers organization, Will Acton and Jesse Joensuu, I was reminded of one of my favourite segments of the Colbert Report- Better know a district. Like the last few items I have posted, this article will surround Philip Larsen who was acquired from Dallas in the Shawn Horcoff trade. Is Larsen actually part of GM Craig Mactavish’s plan for the future or is he a simple ‘must take back’ like Aaron Johnson was when he was the player the Oilers received for Steve Staios a few years ago?
Sam Gagner signed a 3 year deal worth an average yearly salary of $4.8 million this past month and I reflected on this deal and I can only come up with one word: perfect. If Gagner didn’t want to be in Edmonton and see this rebuild to the end, he would have taken his one year arbitration and moved on after this season and taken his money. Swin wrote a brilliant article about the Gager haters and it really shed some light on what the Oilers really have in Gagner and what the alternatives are. 3 years is the perfect deal.
I have heard some fans complain that Boyd Gordon’s contract is too large at $3 million and that Ference’s 4 year deal is too long. Thanks, captains of obviousness – that is what happens when you fill the holes via free agency. If Ference’s term didn’t take him to retirement, he probably doesn’t come to Edmonton. I have heard Gordon’s game described by a former teammate as: the way the game is supposed to be played. Horc was too expensive at $5.5 and apparently his replacement is too expensive at $3. Is there something I am missing here? Who’s money is it anyway? Lots of people in Northern Alberta are overpaid, why shouldn’t some of the Oilers share in that good fortune. Until we are up against the cap, it doesn’t matter.
The unknown big man: Jesse Joensuu- One of the early signings this off-season for GM Craig Mactavish was a relatively unknown player from the Islanders organization, Jesse Joensuu. I say ‘unknown’ as it is doubtful few outside of the most hardcore NHL fans and observers would have any idea who Jesse Joensuu is or even seen him play. However, at 6’4″ and 210lbs, he does add much needed size to the Oilers forward ranks. Is he a big league player or minor league stop gap?
Edmonton Oilers GM Craig Mactavish has reshaped his lineup adding a few forwards and twenty seven depth defensemen. I thought it would be fun to break down the forward lines as an optimistic Oilers fan and a pessimistic Oilers fan who is in the dumps after watching his favorite team miss the playoffs for the last several seasons.
Accepting your role: Will Acton- Yesterday, I wrote about Anton Lander who I felt was the favorite to start the season as the Oiler’s fourth line centre. At the bottom of that post I mentioned how I was listening to Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now and how he felt that recently acquired Will Acton, not Anton Lander, would start the season in the fourth line spot. Since Stauffer is both an Oilers employee and an insider, I have no reason to doubt him. I also stated in yesterday’s post:
I don’t think Acton is the guy on a playoff team either- however, I haven’t seen enough of him to know.
So today I decided to look a little deeper at Acton and see what I could find.
The current 4th line guy, Anton Lander- With yesterday’s signing of Sam Gagner, the Oilers currently have three proven NHL centres under contract, along with RNH and Gordon, for the 2013-14 NHL season. It has been largely speculated that Anton Lander would be the guy to slot in the middle on the fourth line. The question for fans is whether or not Lander looks like a fourth line centre on a playoff team. Even though he has 67 NHL games to his credit over two seasons, no one could make the argument that he is a proven NHL player. Is he the right guy or should the Oilers make a move for a more proven commodity?