Noted Oilers blogger Lowetide and myself can agree on a lot of things. Like myself, he’s first and foremost an Expos fan and the guy has also been known to show some chops regarding some cool old-school music, ie it seems like the fellow knows an awful lot about old Rolling Stones gear.
That being said, it seems like him and I can never get on the same page regarding one Mr. Kevin Lowe. Without even touching on what I thought was the touchstone quote from Staples newly minted blogger expose, LT and I had been going back and forth on his site regarding what it is exactly that Lowe can do to improve this team and just how much it would cost to do it.
One thing we can agree on is that Lowe really thought he was building this team to win in ’08. Well, either that or he really doesn’t value the high-end of the ’08 draft class, which would put him in direct contrast with other notable parties. I say this because if Lowe had valued the class, he most likely wouldn’t have traded his chance at the lottery, which is what he did when he signed Penner to an offersheet and what he was willing to do when he earlier tried to nab Vanek.
Before I really get into this, maybe Lain and I can agree on some things because I think we both said that the best the Oilers would do in ’08, and by best I mean that they enjoyed near pristine health and thus could fully exploit the accumlated talent, was 10th place. So, whether Lain said it or not, I certainly said that Lowe hadn’t exactly put together a playoff roster so for the second year in the row, the guy was about to fail.
Well, a few things have gone right for Lowe if you’re willing to accept the idea that we can use the word right in terms of Lowe having some excuses to lean on at season’s end when everyone wants to hear him explain how his team missed the playoffs for the second straight year and three out of the last four seasons. And by right, I mean longterm injuires to both Pisani and Moreau plus time missed by Souray and Pitkanen. I’ve always said that “Excuses In Lieu Of Success” has been Lowe’s mantra and the good news for him, well besides the four year contract extention he received a couple of monts ago;) is that he’s got a few excuses in his backpocket already and we haven’t even gotten to the first of Decemeber.
The Oilers have seven wins and 15 points in 20 games and their -20 goal differential is by far the worst total in the league. The only team worse, points-wise, than the Oil are the Caps who have six wins and 13 points in 19 games but are actually eight goals better than the Oil in terms of differential wise.
This is to say that the Oilers have certainly bought and paid for their early season woes and aren’t the second worst team in the league because they’ve been the victims of a lot of bad bounces.
So, without getting into just how much money we’re spending to ice a team that’s so bloody bad, and without wondering what kind of a difference would be made by the availabilty of any or all of Pitkanen, Souray, Moreau or Pisani, what can Kevin Lowe do right now to help this team escape from the Western Conference basement?
LT, who always likes to believe the best in people and thus hardly ever gets to experience the feeling of satisifaction;) thinks that Lowe will make a quality for quanity trade, which is to say the Oilers send out two or three kids and get a talented vet in return. And one that hopefully turns the club around a little. Of course, you may know the quality for quanity trade in terms of how, first off, the Oilers ACQUIRED Pronger and then, later on, in terms of how they TRADED Pronger for Ladislav Ulanov, Lupul and three draft picks, forevermore known here as “The Five Assets.” I think what LT is hoping for is a trade like the one Sather made in December of ’97 when he dealt away Bonsignore, Kelly and the other Comrie for Roman Hamrlik. That cleared away some of the kids from the Oilers pipeline plus it provided that team with a another very useful dman.
My counterpoint to LT was two-fold:
1: Lowe doesn’t usually make qual for quan trades, he usually accepts them. For proof, I listed how, yes, Lowe once duped Larry Pleau into sending us Pronger for Jeff Woywitka and Doug Lynch but he was also the guy who did Pronger for Five Assets and also became flustered with Smyth to the point of dealing him for the inconsistent Robert Nilsson, California Dreaming Ryan O’Marra, hint: the guy currently plays in Stockton, California for an ECHL club and another first round pick.
2: Qual for quan trades normally happen when the team accepting the qual portion has the capspace to pay for them longterm once the deal’s done. Now, I will allow for the possibility that you can do a quan for qual move as a rental, but, the Oilers really don’t have the capspace to do this at this time. Unless, of course, the team on the other end just can’t get a deal done with the guy they’re moving and they’re willing to take on some salary just to get rid of him.
So, what do you guys think? Is there any way Lowe can get out of this mess via trade? Especially in terms of qual for quan, I mean. The only idea I have is if he tries to blow away the Thrashers with an offer for Hossa. But, in the process, he first moves Tarnstrom’s contract somewhere for nothing more than a draft pick and just saves the cash. Then, Lowe calls Atlanta and dangles Stoll, plus Gilbert or Smid, plus a prospect; take your pick of Nilsson-Schremp our Pouliot. If you could do that, combine the amount of cap space we have currently have available with the combined cost of the players moved, we would be able to afford what’s left of Hossa’s ’08 salary. So, you could look at it as a rental first and foremost and then you could try later to sign him longterm. Is that something that interests the Oil fan and if not, how would you go about trying to significantly improve this team trade-wise? And keep in mind that we started the season ~1.4 mill under the cap so we really don’t have a lot of room.
There may be a minor move or two you could make right now that could help the club. I’m talking about things like resuing proven tough minutes muncher Mike Johnson from the Blues minor league club and putting him in the lineup in place of Sam Gagner. That alone would make it much easier for MacT to match lines. But, apparently Johnson’s agent called the Oilers in late summer and was rebuffed so I doubt the Edm brass would change their minds at this point. The org could also send send Allan Rourke back to the minors, diminish Smid’s role and look to peddle one of their young forwads to a Blues org that currently has a surplus of dmen. But that’s for another time. Right now, I’m wondering if there’s anyway Lowe can make the big splash.