Edmonton's Dirty Little Secret

Vintage Flame
August 19 2011 04:01PM

 

 

The following is a Public Service Announcement from the fans of the Calgary Flames... “EDMONTON is the worst thing since Hepatitis!” Wow...That’s kind of harsh isn’t it? But... that is what I read the other day. And, it came from a fairly respected source. However, just to be fair, let’s take an in depth look and see if indeed the Oilers are worthy of the reference.

Rexallitis A: Oilers’ Goaltending

The Oilers’ goaltending has been a position of contention, arguably since the days of Bill Ranford. Going into this season, Edmonton is going to face a gruelling learning curve that might turn out in their favour, but is more likely yet another source of frustration for the young club. Devan Dubnyk increased his work load by 84% from the 2009-10 season, but made little impact on the team considering he is going to carry the majority of the mail this year. 

Player GP GA GAA W L SOL Svs Pct
Devan Dubnyk 35 93 2.71 12 13 8 1010 0.916
Nikolai Khabibulin 47 153 3.40 10 32 4 1236 0.890

Despite Dubnyk playing 12 less games than Khabibulin, he actually boasted a decent GAA and Sv%, especially for a second year goalie. It was actually his best numbers since 2006-07, when he posted a 2.56 GAA and 0.921 Sv% in 43 games with the ECHL Stocton Thunder. Then again, is there any real reason for optimism with this guy? The numbers seem fine until you come to the realization that he only played 35 games. Can Dubnyk pull out these same kinds of numbers when he is playing 60 + games? Despite the high aspirations the Oilers had in bringing Nikolai over from Chicago, he has been more of a liability for the team, than the asset he was once known as. Add to the fact that he is most likely one more back spasm away from Margaritaville, and the writing is pretty much all over the “Bulin Wall”. Was he too old to play the style he was known for and praised for on highlight reels? Maybe Nik was struck with a little bit of Rexallitis B?...What’s that?

Rexallitis B: Oilers’ Defence

Hey, don’t laugh. These ladies might have distracted opposition enough to have prevented more goals than the Oilers defence corps. Flat out, the Oilers D-men were brutal last year... and the year before that too. No doubt losing Ryan Whitney to injury was significant. He was the only D-man to have a positive +/-, at +13. Of course that may be misleading in that he only played in 35 games. Here is how the back end looked.

Player GP G A Pts +/- Corsi/60 GVT 2011 Sal
Ryan Whitney 35 2 25 27 13 -11.86 7.6 4 M
Tom Gilbert 79 6 20 26 -14 -3.36 3.4 4 M
Kurtis Foster 74 8 14 22 -12 -7.55 1.3 N/A
Jim Vandermeer 62 2 12 14 -15 -4.63 3 N/A
Theo Peckham 71 3 10 13 -5 -12.18 1.7 1.075 M
Ladislav Smid 78 0 10 10 -10 -6.03 -0.4 2.25 M
Jeff Petry 35 1 4 5 -12 0.11 -0.2 1 M
Jason Strudwick 43 0 2 2 -16 -19.37 -1.9 UFA
Taylor Chorney 12 1 3 4 -5 -15.02 0.3 735 K
*Cam Barker 51 1 4 5 -11 -14.12 -1 2.25 M

Hmmm, maybe it was the Edmonton defence that was distracted by the “flag bearers” above, because these are the kind of numbers that get your hockey card shoved into the spoke of some kid’s bike tire. As their Corsi shows, they were completely inept at driving the play north while on the ice. They were marginally significant offensively, and as their GVT rating shows, it wasn’t a stretch to replace these guys if need or want be. The addition of *Cam Barker to this squad leaves little hope to solve this issue either. Even though he wasn’t on the squad last year, I have included his numbers in the chart above, to show the Oilers lack of progression in this area. Barker becomes an RFA next season, so clearly this is an audition year to see if Barker can get his career going in the right direction.

Rexallitis C: Oilers’ Remission

Obviously the big white elephant here is the omission of the fab five of Hall, Paajarvi, Eberle, Omark and RNH. It’s the topic that has Oil fans dancing in the street. It’s the justification and vindication they’ve needed in light of the Oilers last place finishing over the past two years and the 10th worst team in the 2008-09 season. It is also going to be the strife and letdown for the future of the Oilers.

The way I see it, the Oilers took a dramatic step backwards in the 2011 draft. Many will say that is an absurd comment, but before you do... there is a method to my madness! There was no doubt that RNH was going to go first overall. Any team with the first pick would have been out right stupid to not draft Hopkins. So how did the Oilers make a miscalculation in indeed taking Hopkins first overall? They never should have drafted first overall. If the Oilers had taken off the RNH blinders and considered what an asset he could have been to their future, they would have traded the first overall pick.

The Oilers have a very formidable set of young forward prospects now. Why add another one, when the team is so desperate for help on the back end? Had the Oilers traded the first pick, they could have had extreme leverage over any team that came inquiring. They would have had teams lined up around Rexall to get that first pick. Basically, the Oilers could have used the availability of the pick to fix what was wrong with the team now and save what they will be in a few years.

I once heard that teams should never draft defensemen. The reason is that by the time they develop into their full potential, they are finished their entry level contracts, end up costing a fortune to re-sign and are usually lost to free agency. I agree with this and I don’t think the Oilers made a mistake in not drafting Larsson for this exact reason. Instead they drafted Klefbom later in the first round and they still get a solid defensive prospect they develop over time. However, if they had traded the first pick? They could have landed an established high-end #1 D-man. As we saw from the chart above, the Oil don’t have the luxury to develop a #1 D-man, they need help ASAP. With all of the moves made during free agency, the Oilers could have landed themselves immediate help on the back end, and that includes the possibility of landing Shea Webber.

Rexallitis D: Oilers’ Future

What happens when these entry level contracts all expire and these young superstars want to start seeing some real money? There are going to be a lot of tough decisions because the Oilers are not going to be able to sign and keep all these forwards. As I stated before, Edmonton doesn’t have the luxury of time to develop a #1 or #2 D-man. So if the goal is to fill this void immediately, they are going to have to buy them through free agency. According to CapGeek, the Oilers have four players signed through the 2013-14and just under $52 Million in cap space. Those four players are not Hall, Eberle, Omark or Paajarvi. Going by the chart above, the Oilers will have to fork out for probably two high end defensemen, to even give the corps a chance. That is going to run them somewhere in the neighbourhood of $10-15 Million for the pair, depending on who they try to sign.

If Dubnyk can’t carry the load of a 60+ game season, they also are going to have to look, once again, for a goaltender. Before anyone attributes Edmonton to the latest trend of signing goalies for cheap, keep in mind Edmonton is not Washington. They are not going to get Tomas Vokoun for $1.25 million. They are not Stanley Cup contenders; they are going to have to lure a top end goalie with money, not potential and opportunity. Teams like Chicago made successful runs with cheap goalies like Niemi, because they had the defence to keep the pressure off. Edmonton lacks this, and goalies know it. Look for a decent goaltending option to run them $4-5 million per.

Edmonton’s cap space now reduces to $38-32 Million. This number is reduced again because Omark actually becomes an RFA the previous year. Say Omark signs for even $2 Million? You also have to account for Hopkins being a full time player on the team; his entry level contract is $3.775 M, but becomes an RFA the next year. That leaves the Oilers an average of $30 Million to sign Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi.. and now factor in Klefbom.. Not to mention 13-15 more roster positions. Now there is no way to predict what these kids are going be offered or what they will expect. It will largely depend on their performance over the next couple of seasons.

However this leads to the conclusion of the Oilers’ problems. If the kids are a bust, then so will be the team and they will remain amongst the basement dwellers of the NHL. BUT... If the kids are “nice”, then there can be little doubt that they will want to be paid as such, and Katz and Lowe will find themselves in a severe Cap strain, with some tough decisions. Who will stay and who will go elsewhere Time will tell.

In the meantime Oilers fans; keep dancing in the streets. After all, ignorance is bliss... and well, its happy hour and that city is blissed out of its mind.

E42f2ca09dfb26046c3060ff46473aff
Vintage Flame is a Calgary based sports junkie that prefers to call hockey a "religion" rather than an addiction. He believes there are two types of hockey fans. Those who cheer for the Flames, and those who don't understand the sport yet. Follow Vintage_Flame on Twitter
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#1 shaner
August 19 2011, 04:08PM
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spoken like a true flames fan....IGNORANCE is bliss, but then again misery loves company, were with you right now or should I say your with us. Let's wait and see if Edmonton is Hepatitis ville in 2-3 years or if flames fans are secretly wanting there hated oil to go all the way.

suck it vintage flame

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#2 Kent Wilson
August 19 2011, 04:10PM
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haha, and the very first one took the bait. Well done VF.

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#3 icedawg_42
August 19 2011, 04:15PM
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point #1...this is FLAMESnation. ...ahem!

point #2...I'd do ALL of those cheerleaders.

point #3 you're bang on - Edmoncharf's D blows

point #4 you're bang on again - MASS exodus at the end of all these ELC's. - they'd better get that defense sorted out QUICK if they want the team to 'gel' enough to post a winning record, and bid to keep any of those kids around.

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#4 icedawg_42
August 19 2011, 04:17PM
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point #5 - Theo Peckham is a funny and cool dude! (sorry, but it's true)

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#5 shaner
August 19 2011, 04:20PM
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lap it up hemrhoids. lets pretend for one minute that it is true. check out the depth chart in waiting on hockeyfutures.com, surely not all of them will be a bust. Then again maybe our top prospects will demand trades to the Rangers..

Lap it up, enjoy another year of moral victories over the baby oil. After next year it is going to have to rain allot in Calgary so know one can see you crying! haha

p.s. great article I just hope one time both teams can be good at the same time so we can get some real battles brewing again.

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#6 shaner
August 19 2011, 04:23PM
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while were at it lets talk about how we actually won the cup in 04 and how theres a conspiracy in the NHL against Calgary and you can post it on canucksarmy also because they believe the same thing,

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#7 icedawg_42
August 19 2011, 04:28PM
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@shaner

well i'll agree with you on one thing Shaner - a REAL battle of Alberta is LONG overdue - the WORLD needs to see what a true rivalry is all about. Ok i'll agree with you twice, but only because your post convinced me - the Flames won the cup in '04

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#8 Wanyes bastard child
August 19 2011, 04:34PM
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Despite the article at least your still far and away a better writer than Rosscreek ;)

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#9 edmontoncritic - BRoadwAY
August 19 2011, 04:39PM
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So VF, tryin to start a fight right off the hop, hey??

As mentioned, the sad part about this is that our stock is rising constantly, all we do is aquire more strong assets (Google) where the flamers are in a serious downswing with not much hope. They could remain relevant for a long period of time but never win anything (RIM).

The last time there was a chance for a Battle of Alberta, the flames choked, as usual. Maybe in 3 years you guys can sneak into 8th and play the 1st place oilers.

I know that you guys like our castoffs (Glencross, Staios, Lombardi) but I think the only guy that we have left that we'd be happy to ditch in a couple years might be Sutton after his stint in OKC. He might still be too young though at the time, he'll only be 39!

Enjoy your last year ahead of us in the standings (maybe)

Cheers on poppin your cherry

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#10 HabsGirl
August 19 2011, 04:47PM
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First I AM NOT A FLAMES FAN!! Second, when I can't cheer for my Habs I am cheering for the Oilers. Regardless of how great they are (ahem - Gretzky, Messier, Fuhr days) or how disappointing a certain shot swigging goalie is, I still love them.

Finally, I voted for Vintage Flame and am glad I did. While I may not agree with all that he says, or the fact that he is a Flames fan, he is articulate and unlike most people, has a flare and talent for writing!

I look forward to future articles even and the Habs winning the Stanley Cup!!

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#11 icedawg_42
August 19 2011, 05:01PM
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you sure know how to stir it up Vintage! What next - an article claiming Sidney Crosby molests baby seals?

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#12 Wanyes bastard child
August 19 2011, 05:18PM
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Well at least over at Oilersnation we don't have to stoop to hiring from the commentators and have actual credible and talente... oh wait... we have Wanye, NVM carry on :P

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#14 Robert Cleave
August 19 2011, 06:27PM
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I've been out of pocket for the last couple of days, but first off, congratulations, VF, and welcome aboard.

Second, I can't begin to express how happy I am that you used your first real post to troll our friends from Stinktown, or as a co-worker of mine once referred to it, "The Pas with parking meters." Keep up the good work.

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#15 TAE0145
August 19 2011, 06:41PM
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Question do the Flames have any star quality players who won`t be retired in 5 years.

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#16 edmontoncritic - BRoadwAY
August 19 2011, 07:05PM
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@Vintage Flame

#1 - We have a plethora of talent, its not just about 5.

Our best prospects are playing already but we have PLENTY to come... That's what flames fan has NO IDEA about though!

Its gunna be WAVE after WAVE of talent coming through, we'll lose MPS after our first cup, then have Pitlick or Lander or Hamilton to still go along with Hall, Ebs, RNH, Hartikainen,Hemsky. Its not like we wont get anything for Omark and Gagner if they had to leave, while the flames will be BEGGING Sutter (AKA The Jolly Rancher) to come back and bring you losers back to 8th place where you were having SUCH a good time losing in the first round year after year.

Defense - Whitney is 28, under 25/6, Gilbert, Smid, Peckham, Petry, Marincin, Klefbom, Musil, Teubert, Simpson

Goaltending - Tyler Bunz just attended the World Junior Camp and the reebok goalie camp. The only bad thing was that Luon8o was there. But he's a beauty, between he, Dubnyk and Roy it should be a similar situation to LaBarbera, Bernier and Quick.

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#19 Canucks Suck
August 19 2011, 07:13PM
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@TAE0145

Mark Giordano

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#20 DieHard
August 19 2011, 07:19PM
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Actually, I don't see a problem. It's actually a very nice position to be in. Lots of young high-end talent in the early to mid years of RFA. Nice looking prospects in the pipe line as well with probable one more lottery pick next year in a deep draft. The new CBA next year should provide clarity with regard to the CAP and maybe other things. Worse case - Oilers make trades to solidify additional future dominance. Just wish that your Flames would be competitive in a few years but alas I believe it shall not be. I really enjoyed the 80's rivalries.

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#22 Subz
August 19 2011, 07:45PM
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Well Done VF, and congrats.

Its funny how oil fans are always telling us to wait and see. Back to Back basement finishes for that crap town , and still "wait and see" Really ?

It's Comic relief when you clowns get your "future" aka Hall to celebrate the number one pick at a lottery party. Heres to RNH celebrating top pick 2012.

PS whats up with that torn up dump you guys call downtown ?

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#23 TAE0145
August 19 2011, 07:53PM
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@Vintage Flame

It will be interesting to see which way they go. I'm guessing throwing way too much money at an overrated player like they tried with Brad Richards this year.

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#24 TAE0145
August 19 2011, 07:55PM
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Not saying the Oilers didn't try the same stupid tactic with Hossa and then the attempt at Heatley.

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#25 DieHard
August 19 2011, 07:58PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

Keep in mind the future of this team [Flames] will look dramatically different after next year. With roughly 20-25 million coming off the books in cap space, who knows what direction they will persue?

That direction will be dictated by where the Flames are prior to the trade deadline and not really with the cap space at seasons end. If in a solid playoff spot they might trade a asset for a boost but that may not be wise - who knows. If they are out of it they could unload some players and grab a few 2nd and/or 3rd rounders in a deep draft. That would be your best case scenario. If on the bubble (most likely) you will do nothing. This will lead to 14th or 15th pick with no 2nd rounder and no picks for the players who just finished their contracts.

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#28 TAE0145
August 19 2011, 08:09PM
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@Vintage Flame

True. Webber would have to be the first choice. As long as they pick someone like them and not a 30+ player who's best years are behind them. I agree with your point about the Oilers should have traded the pick for a defenseman. Whether RNH turns out or not!

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#31 SkinnyFish
August 19 2011, 08:21PM
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It's beautiful.

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#32 DieHard
August 19 2011, 08:26PM
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@Vintage Flame

"When you keep collecting high level talent and year after year do nothing with it, you have to think the long term effect is not going to be good."

If this was 2 years from now and the Oil were still bottom feeders I can agree with your statement. But this year after year is only 2 years. You make it sound like years and years have gone by.

And by the way what team/player was available to be traded for the 1st overall (RNH). I didn't hear any offers for that elite D-man. And how do you know there wasn't an effort?

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#34 edmontoncritic - BRoadwAY
August 19 2011, 08:45PM
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@Vintage Flame

Its not a wait and see, you watch it grow from the ground up. You'll see the Barons progress by a year or two ahead of the Oil. We have our elite players, they just arent gunna take you to the cup in a year! The Barons made the Playoffs last year.

The rebuild started last year. Just like Baertschi (however its spelt) will be your Gagner, its all downhill from here for the flames, you just dont accept it yet. I wont fault you though because oilerfan was blind in those days as you are now. The thing is, that it takes luck to finish in 30th. Seriously. You can tank, no problem but its tough to win the lottery

Kane was the last piece in the Chicago puzzle, Staal was the last piece in the pens puzzle, Backstrom was the last piece in the Caps puzzle. Oiler fans are realistically optimistic. They dont think its a playoff guarantee this year, they think 10-12, they think that after this year, the playoff drought is over for a long time! If you choose to believe otherwise, you sir are in the large minority from commentary around the league, not just where the koolaid is sold. The Oilers system is DEEP, even with the likes of Hall, Ebs, MPS & Gagner not even listed as "prospects" anymore

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#35 RexLibris
August 19 2011, 09:38PM
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Congratulations, VF. I'm not sure that Flames fans will appreciate if you make the Oilers, and Edmonton, a consistent topic for your posts, but it's your little part of the interwebs, go to town.

I'll agree with you on a few points (after all, I don't want to spoil your debut): the Oilers defence is bad, yep. But the defence has to grow and the price for picking up the back-end talents to fix this team overnight are just too steep. To advance defensively we'd be short-selling on our futures, and that's just not sane asset management. We've backed into this rebuild thing so the defensive prospects have come in later than the forwards and that means it has to grow and take time. Same with goaltending. But when the rebuild, or whatever you guys want to call it to save face, happens in Calgary it'll be the same thing. Probably unplanned. The defensive core is there and coming along, Petry is the start, with guys like Marincin, Klefbom, Musil, and Peckham as potential parts of that picture. Teubert, Simpson, Gernat, and Plante are forecast as being complimentary at this point, but again, it remains to be seen. You guys let Brett Hull and Martin St. Louis go, so you know that it's better to take your time and get a good look rather than let a gem slip by because you were impatient. All that aside, right now it's not pretty. But Oiler fans are okay with that because at the very least we have a direction and a decent chance at improvement with our prospects on the way.

Now, to disagree: you wanted us to trade away our chance at picking a potential 1st line centre? I'd expect a little more foresight from a blogger who covers the Flames. Hasn't there been a perennial search for a #1 centre to feed Iginla for about 5 or 6 years now? You've seen what trying to trade for one of these guys is like, so why wouldn't you take your shot at drafting him? Especially when you know you have another pick in the 1st round to use on a defenceman and that your team is probably going to be drafting in the top 10 the next year in a defence-deep draft. It was a smart, safe, and fore-sighted pick and we're all hoping it turns out when he plays here, be it this year or next.

I'll leave off the contract thing because I'm already going on too long. But you know, when you try and insult the Oilers about their prospects and future I can only think one thing: I thought you guys wore red, not green

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#37 Cam Charron
August 19 2011, 09:57PM
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All I can say is that Ryan Lambert has some room for improvement after this post.

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#39 edmontoncritic - BRoadwAY
August 19 2011, 10:07PM
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@Vintage Flame

Core Players - Estimated $ based on a complete guess and a couple yrs out.

Hall - 8M RNH - 6M Ebs - 6M MPS - 4M Whitney - 4M Petry - 5M Bunz or Dubnyk - 4M 7 players = 37M

Cap Limit likely in 3-4 years = $70M

Remaining Roster = 23-7 = 16

33/16 = $2.0625M per player remaining. Even if you think the estimates above are low, an avg of over $2M per player leaves you quite a bit of room. Especially when alot of players will be on entry level deals on the 3/4th line for a couple years

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#41 edmontoncritic - BRoadwAY
August 19 2011, 11:31PM
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@Vintage Flame

Klefbom is at minimum 4 years away from a contract, probably 5. Whitney is a #2 Offensive defenseman. The players right now that have Top pairing potential are Marincin and Petry. Worst case both would be #4s. The team which shall not be named made it to the final without a #1 or 2. They had like 4, #3s which worked fine. Pitt had Gonchar in their run and basically nothing else of note on the back end. Orpik, Gill, Letang??

Key being, there are many ways to accumulate talent and win. The key words being accumulate talent. You can trade for what you need. See Whitney for Kunitz, Pronger for package. You need young assets to be able to deal, you just hope you dont turn those young assets (Phaneuf AND Aulie) into that scoring machine Matt Stajan.

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#42 RossCreekNation
August 19 2011, 11:40PM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

Despite the article at least your still far and away a better writer than Rosscreek ;)

Well... YOU SON OF A BBBBB!!!!!

Hahaha. How's it goin, bastard?

Good stuff, VF!

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#44 schevvy
August 20 2011, 12:51AM
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i'm gonna get razzed for this, but I honestly think the Oil should've taken Landeskog over RNH. Landeskog is bigger, stronger and I think is more of what the Oil needed. They have enough skilled forwards. (Eberle, Hall, Paajarvi, Omark). Landeskog is the type of young forward they don't really have right now. Don't get me wrong I think RNH will be a good player, but I really like what I see out of Landeskog and think he will be betrer in the future.

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#45 Ryan
August 20 2011, 02:47AM
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I would just like to point out that Edmonton fans shouldn't count their chickens before they hatch.

Sure, you may have a ton of great prospects in the system, and a couple of good young players, but that's all they are at this point: prospects and young players. You can gab all you want about your high draft picks and the potential for success down the road, but in the end, that's all it is - gab and success POTENTIAL.

As a last point, I want to take you all back to the days of the "kid line" of Cogliano, Gagner, and Nilsson. I heard Oiler fans yak all day about how great the kid line is, and how every team should have one, and about how great they're going to be! Cogliano - bust. Nilsson - bust. Gagner - decent player, but nowhere near where you all seemed to think he would be.

What I'm saying is this: your prospects have to develop. Hall and Eberle are good young players, and RNH will be a great player in the league for sure, but don't go thinking that the "City of Champions" (LOL) isn't immune to making a Daigle-sized mistake. You're putting your faith in the hands of children.

You spend your time pointing the finger at the Flames' organization because you're afraid to face the truth: your future is no more certain than ours is.

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#46 ChinookArch
August 20 2011, 06:50AM
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VF,

Beautifully done. Out of the gate and you go straight for the hearts of Oiler fans. It's about time that someone exposed the Oliers strategy for what it is - a fairytale. Seriously, how is that an entire fan base is sucked into this sewer of junk logic: 1. Be a bad, uncompetitive team for several years. 2. Draft in the top 3 every year. 3. Become NHL champions. Really! Wow, you people are so smart. I can't believe no one else has thought of this. Oh wait maybe others have . . . Let's see, ah yes I can think of a couple. The Panthers and the Islanders have both iced terrible teams for years, and both a have drafted in the top 10 for years. I can't wait to watch the exodus out of Edmonton, but it's okay right you just keep drafting in the top 10. Good for you!

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#47 ChinookArch
August 20 2011, 07:16AM
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edmontoncritic - BRoadwAY wrote:

Core Players - Estimated $ based on a complete guess and a couple yrs out.

Hall - 8M RNH - 6M Ebs - 6M MPS - 4M Whitney - 4M Petry - 5M Bunz or Dubnyk - 4M 7 players = 37M

Cap Limit likely in 3-4 years = $70M

Remaining Roster = 23-7 = 16

33/16 = $2.0625M per player remaining. Even if you think the estimates above are low, an avg of over $2M per player leaves you quite a bit of room. Especially when alot of players will be on entry level deals on the 3/4th line for a couple years

I'm impressed with how far you are willing to push the fairytale. You don't know $70M will be the new cap in a few years, and considering that the CBA is up this year, I doubt your right. You may also consider that as the cap goes up, so will player expectations for bigger contracts, in other words their agents will ensure that each player reaps their fair share of cap space regardless of what that number is.

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#48 Craig
August 20 2011, 07:21AM
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There are a lot of young skilled players in the Oilers organization, but there's no variation, they are all offensively gifted forwards. No two way minute munching centre, no high level physical grinders, no above average goaltending, no top level defenseman. There are a lot of holes to be filled, and hoarding offensively skilled young forwards and adding ryan smith isn't going to solve anything.

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#49 Evmo
August 20 2011, 08:41AM
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So Vintage Flame are you saying that you would not trade our Flames team and prospects straight up for the Oilers team and prospects? I know that I would even if it means not making the playoffs for a few years. I would rather lose with young talent and potential then the old core we have now in Calgary.

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#50 RexLibris
August 20 2011, 09:02AM
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With regards to the Oilers prospects, and I think I've said this before on this site, most Oiler fans know that they haven't done anything yet. They've shown promise, but a stable full of horses doesn't mean anything until you see them run. And we know this. For any Oiler fans who are running their mouth saying we'll be winning cups for years while Calgary is still trying to find a way to unload Hagman and Stajan, I apologize. Those fans are annoying even to me. They're the same kind of fan that says that the Canucks are the best team of the last decade, or even that Toronto is Canada's team and unites the country.

That being said, leveraging RNH at the draft for a defenceman sounds good, but frankly wasn't going to materialize into what we really needed. Tambellini did say he was open to trading the pick, just as he did last year, but offers for first overall's, in my opinion, haven't been as good since Cliff Fletcher and Mike Milbury left the league.

As for comments about the fanbase here being warped by buying into the rebuild all I can say is, we tried it the other way for years and it didn't work, so what's wrong with trying it this way now? Yes, some teams screw it up (Atlanta, Columbus, NYI) and some don't (Pit - with the exception of the Crosby lottery, Chicago, Detroit - when they drafted Yzerman) so instead of telling us that we're being stupid and naive, why don't we refrain come commenting until the team takes shape and begins to bring up these prospects over the next two years. If, in five years, we're throwing players overboard in trades like cheap ballast in an effort to compliment a few stars and get us over the top, like Columbus, or Toronto during the 00's, or even the Flames, then we can talk. But for right now, trying to tell an Oiler fan that his team is headed for disaster because we've supposedly pinned our hopes on Cam Barker is just wrong. We haven't. Cam Barker is to us what Brendan Morrison was to the Flames, a limited-effect gamble on a position of need. The expectation for Barker is he'll go from playing with Whitney (a pairing meant to give him confidence and the chance to get his feet under him again) to playing with Sutton or whomever on the 5-6 pairing.

As for the cap situation and VF's Oil spill of talent, well, better to have and not need. And having a spare top six winger or two that you can move for help in other areas is a good thing. Apparently even having a surplus of borderline 3rd and 4th line players can get you a top-pairing defenceman and a can't miss defensive prospect these days. What is Keith Aulie's ceiling, anyway?

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