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 reality of it all is that we can slot guys in here and there in our imaginary rosters. Evaluate all the Corsi and zone starts and quality of competition we want, but at the end of the day those things don’t get you a Stanley Cup. And that, after all, is the goal. Bloggers, casual fans, radio callers, talk show hosts all have their opinions and those opinions are quite often strong. The reality of it is, so many things have to happen for a team to make the playoffs and then go on a deep run that trying to hypothetically piece it together in July is actually quite silly. But that is what we do. We bleed Orange and Blue.
In order for the Oilers to make the playoffs a few things have to happen in my opinion. The goaltending has to be better by say 10 goals against. This would have put Dubnyk in the top 5 in save % last year. 10 more timely saves would have likely meant a playoff berth for the Oilers. Guess what else that means? If Dubnyk stands on his head, we have to pay him like he did. On the UFA market a goalie with a .930 save % and a GAA around 2.00 gets close to $5 million. It also gets you in the playoffs. A top tier D man has to emerge from the corps as the real deal. The candidates for this jump are Petry and J. Schultz. If one of them (or both of them) prove they are top flight defenders, once again the Oilers have to pay. Schultz was over a half point a game as a rookie (and also a -17). Those offensive numbers are in the company of Gonchar, Streit, Campbell, Keith, Phaneuf, Weber, Green…if Schultz maintains his offense and tightens up his defensive game he will command that type of salary. If he emerges as a primary defender, he costs a lot of money. North of Bogosian territory. He also gets you into the playoffs.
The reality of it is: this is our core for the next three years and there is some work to be done internally. Hopefully Eakins can bring this young group together and get them playing to the next level. It is a wait and see game right now and this is a very pivotal year for this young group.