• The Oilers are pretty much selling jeans here

    by Tyler Dellow • November 24, 2007 • Uncategorized • 24 Comments

    A remark in David Staples’ most recent post caught my eye. The whole post is worth reading – I never knew the story behind how the Canadiens ended up with the star crossed pick that they used on Doug Wickenheiser before – but there was one thing in particular that jumped out at me:

    One final thought for now — when Lowe was considering signing a Restricted Free Agent last spring, he checked with the NHL to see if he could give up any first round draft pick in compensation, or if he had to give up the Oilers’ first pick. Of course, he found out he had to give up the Oilers’ pick (rather than, for instance, return the 2008 first round pick he had acquired from Anaheim in the Pronger trade.).

    This ruling has tremendously negative consequences for weaker NHL teams. If a strong team like Detroit were to sign Dion Phaneuf this summer, it would have to give up its next four first round draft picks, which might not hurt so much, as Detroit tends to be a top team…


    Staples is obviously right about this having tremendously negative consequences for weaker NHL teams but it’s the first bit, the bit about Lowe having checked with the NHL that disheartens me, because it’s evidence that tends to confirm something that I thought was right – these guys aren’t detail obsessed planning freaks. If they were, I’d think that they’d have known this since sometime in 2005.

    As I assume is common knowledge amongst people who read this site (and I also assume it’s been common knowledge since shortly after the new CBA came out), you don’t need to get a ruling from the NHL on what draft picks you use – it says so right in the freaking CBA. It’s in Article 10.4; the relevant excerpt reads:

    Clubs must use their own draft picks (being those awarded directly to the Club by the League for use by it in the Entry Draft, including such draft picks described in the first clause of this parenthetical that a Club has traded or encumbered, and subsequently reacquired or unencumbered.)

    Clubs cannot acquire picks to use as compensation (with the exception being a Club’s own draft selections that are traded and then re-acquired).

    I explained back when Lowe was extended how the Oilers hadn’t really played their cards properly when they signed Thomas Vanek to an offer sheet – they were “lucky” that Burke wasn’t astute enough to pick up on it and get Penner safely covered by team initiated arbitration prior to 5 p.m. that day.

    Call me an idealist, but I’d like to think that Oilers management knows the CBA inside and out, that they’re looking for every single possible edge to get more value out of their players and to take advantage of other teams. You’re unlikely to ever get direct evidence for or against this propositon – it’s just a bunch of small pieces of evidence one way or the other. It’s tremendously depressing to cheer for a team with a marketing department that could convince the Pope that Caiaphas had the right idea and a hockey operations department that just doesn’t seem to be anywhere near cutting edge. This doesn’t need to be Lowe’s forte – you can structure your hockey operations departments in different ways, with GM’s having different skills – but you wonder why there isn’t someone in the organization who can recite the CBA backwards in the middle of the night when awoken from a drunken slumber.

    ^   ^   ^

    I’ve heard and seen some snarky media/blog exchanges in the hockey sites I pay attention to (in fairness, I’ve also had some very friendly email exchanges with media people.)  Things seem a little rougher in the baseball world – according to Philadelphia Daily News writer Bill Conlin:

    The only positive thing I can think of about Hitler’s time on earth–I’m sure he would have eliminated all bloggers.

    The full story is here.

    About Tyler Dellow

    24 Responses to The Oilers are pretty much selling jeans here

    1. Julian
      November 24, 2007 at

      If they were “selling jeans”, would they really have gone after Penner?

      You know, I can handle cheering for a bad team. Cheering for a stupid team though… that takes a lot more… something. Stupidity maybe.

    2. mc79hockey
      November 24, 2007 at

      I didn’t say that they were good jeans salesmen.;)

    3. November 24, 2007 at

      Staples is obviously right about this having tremendously negative consequences for weaker NHL teams but it’s the first bit, the bit about Lowe having checked with the NHL that disheartens me, because it’s evidence that tends to confirm something that I thought was right – these guys aren’t detail obsessed planning freaks. If they were, I’d think that they’d have known this since sometime in 2005.

      As I assume is common knowledge amongst people who read this site (and I also assume it’s been common knowledge since shortly after the new CBA came out), you don’t need to get a ruling from the NHL on what draft picks you use – it says so right in the freaking CBA.

      Just remember, we’re talking about a lifelong hockey player turned GM, not exactly the most educated guy on the block. Not being perjorative, just honest here.

    4. PunjabiOil
      November 24, 2007 at

      Just fucking embarrasing.

      This is the same team that had an undrafted Russian prospect at training camp, under the false impression they could sign him out of camp.

    5. allan
      November 24, 2007 at

      That rule has been the same since at least 1995. At the end of section 10.5 of the old CBA, it says “Clubs must use their own draft
      picks (being those awarded directly to the Club by the League for
      use by it in the Entry Draft, including any Compensatory Draft
      Selection pursuant to Section 8.3).”

      So this rule has been the same since several years before Lowe, and I assume much of his staff, were even in the NHL management game.

      Embarassing, indeed.

    6. November 24, 2007 at

      Isn’t Conlin noted for being the only sportswriter to neglect to vote for Nolan Ryan in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility?
      Plus, he apparently admires Hitler’s, um, people skills
      Then consider he probably pulls $200K a year at the Inquirier or Daily News or whatever Philly dishrag he works for.

    7. Pat H
      November 24, 2007 at

      I share your idealism in this regard. They SHOULD know this stuff.

      Caiaphas? Yet another New Testament reference? Man I love it when you toss in these little biblical gems.

    8. Pat H
      November 24, 2007 at

      Punjabi oil:

      “This is the same team that had an undrafted Russian prospect at training camp, under the false impression they could sign him out of camp.”

      I forgot about this, and the details surrounding it. Does anyone have a link.

      This sort of stuff, along with Ty’s present and earlier posts (particularly the one about how Burke could have protected Penner), are all nice little pieces of data – pieces that really ought to be collected as evidence to suggest, once and for all (for any of those still doubting), that this team has no f-ing clue.

    9. PunjabiOil
      November 24, 2007 at

      Karamnov

      KP goes on the radio, proclaiming the Oilers can sign him, even though the many people found the CBA indicating otherwise. A few weeks later, after all the time, effort, resources put into the guy at camp – it’s found that he has to re-enter the draft.

    10. November 24, 2007 at

      This doesn’t make me feel any better, and I’m only using this to try and put together some kind of MO for the Oilers, no matter that it points towards severe incompetance, but maybe just maybe, Lowe and Co Didn’t know the cap was going to increase.

      Seriously, if you’re dumb enough to have to call the head offices as a matter like the compensation required for an offersheet, then nothing else from here on will surprise me.

    11. November 24, 2007 at

      “…but you wonder why there isn’t someone in the organization who can recite the CBA backwards in the middle of the night when awoken from a drunken slumber.”

      Sounds like someone’s angling for a job. You’re going to have to dumb it down a few degrees before Laforge will take you seriously.

    12. November 25, 2007 at

      Staples wrote it so it must be true, huh?

      Not to be a Lowe apologist, but who told him that?

    13. November 25, 2007 at

      Mike, you’re a Loweapologist:)

    14. November 25, 2007 at

      Mike P:

      Lowe told me this himself when I interviewed him last spring when I interviewed him on an unrelated topic, Pronger’s departure from the NHL.

      Should Lowe know the CBA inside out? It would certainly help any NHL GM to know it inside out, or to have someone (such as a Tyler Dellow type) on hand who understands it upside down and backwards. Not all of us love to go through documents, as lawyers do, but I’d say hockey G.M.s had better develop that love. It is crucial to their future success.

      It could also be that my question about possibly signing an RFA caught Lowe off-guard, so his answer to me wasn’t completely forthcoming. He certainly wasn’t keen to talk about any notion of the Oilers’ maybe signing an RFA. Perhaps he wanted to keep his plans a secret . . . I don’t know.

      Cheers, David Staples.

    15. November 25, 2007 at

      Tyler:

      Just read your old post on Vanek and arbitration and the Oilers’ offer.

      Do you mean that after the Oilers made their offer to Vanek, the Sabres still had a number of hours to take him to team arbitration?

      If Buffalo had done that, would it have circumvented the Oilers’ offer?

      And, it seems you’re saying that if early July the Ducks had offered team-imposed arbitration to Penner, he would not have been free to accept the Oilers offer sheet. This is an excellent point, a strong critique of Burke.

      Of course, if Buffalo and Anaheim could have helped themselves so much by going this route with Vanek and Penner respectively on arbitration, it’s not only Kevin Lowe who needs to read up on the CBA.

      Isn’t Burke a lawyer? Could it be there’s some reason he didn’t offer Penner arbitration? (A lot of questions there, I know).

      Well, your posts on this issue have me thinking — as much as I hate to do it, I’m going to have to read through that frakkin CBA myself.

    16. November 25, 2007 at

      David, ok, thank you.

      And you’re correct, Lowe needs to either know the CBA himself, or hire somebody who does. I’d rather he hire somebody who does, and have Lowe handle the actual guts of “who do we want” – jury’s out on his taste in forwards, but generally he’s not mistaken with defencemen and I’d like for that streak to continue. (Bergeron for Grebeshkov is a curious anomaly.)

    17. mc79hockey
      November 25, 2007 at

      Do you mean that after the Oilers made their offer to Vanek, the Sabres still had a number of hours to take him to team arbitration?

      Based on my understanding, no – once Edmonton made the offer, Buffalo could either match or not match. Presumably though, Edmonton was aware that Buffalo might match. What’s more, the Oilers were apparently willing to go after RFA’s other than Vanek. By signing Vanek to an offer sheet before the deadline for team initiated arbitration, what the Oilers effectively did was give every team that wasn’t planning to take their guy to arbitration a chance to re-consider that decision in light of the knowledge that the old GM code about RFA’s was finished. The Rangers look to have taken advantage of that – why else would they have waited until after the Oilers grabbed Vanek and then given an offer sheet?

      As I said in my piece at the time, it was a small slip-up and apparently Burke wasn’t paying attention either, but details matter. Pretending for a moment that the Penner deal made any sense (as I’m sure Lowe and Co. would tell you it did), they risked that chance. The most likely reason is that they were unaware of or didn’t consider the implications. As fans, we’re never going to know the intimate workings of these things but there is stuff that can be inferred from the actions that teams take and in the case of the Oilers, I find a lot of it to be less than promising.

      And, it seems you’re saying that if early July the Ducks had offered team-imposed arbitration to Penner, he would not have been free to accept the Oilers offer sheet. This is an excellent point, a strong critique of Burke.

      This is correct. I don’t know if you have access to this but you should try and find the tape of Burke’s conference call after he announced he wasn’t going to match. A reporter asked him about team initiated arbitration and he said that he thought Penner wasn’t eligible. I’ve read the CBA and looked at what the NHL put out and I can’t see how that’s right. There was no follow up question though.

      Of course, if Buffalo and Anaheim could have helped themselves so much by going this route with Vanek and Penner respectively on arbitration, it’s not only Kevin Lowe who needs to read up on the CBA.

      Sure, but I couldn’t care less if Brian Burke and Darcy Regier have read the CBA and get it right. ;)

    18. November 25, 2007 at

      Thanks for the answers, Tyler. I see your point on possible consequences of Lowe moving early on the Vanek offer. how it could have been a tip off to other teams. But could it be, though, that Lowe really thought Buffalo would not match the offer but had an inkling one might come, so he wanted to make the offer before Buffalo offered team-initiated arbitration to Vanek?

      I’m going to have to read that CBA (gulp!)to find out if the Ducks could have locked up Penner by offering him team-initiated arbitration (and if Buffalo could have done same with Vanek). It’s interesting that Burke said this wasn’t an option for his team with Penner.

    19. mc79hockey
      November 25, 2007 at

      But could it be, though, that Lowe really thought Buffalo would not match the offer but had an inkling one might come, so he wanted to make the offer before Buffalo offered team-initiated arbitration to Vanek?

      As I read the CBA, I think that the answer is no. Vanek signed his first Standard Player Contract (“SPC”) at the age of 20. If you take a look at Article 12 of the CBA, you’ll see that a player needs four years of professional experience in order to be eligible for club elected salary arbitration if he signs his SPC between the ages of 18-20. He played 2004-05 in Rochester and 2005-06/2006-07 in Buffalo. Therefore, on my reading of the CBA, he was NOT eligible for club selected arbitration.

      Penner, on the other hand, signed his first pro contract at the age of 21 or 22. He required either two or three years to be eligible for club elected arbitration. He had three years of professional experience (once you’re over 20, you get a year for every season in which you play 10 games under a pro contract). Accordingly, in my view, he was eligible for club elected arbitration.

    20. Ken
      November 25, 2007 at

      Unfortunately for Oiler fans, the organization fails to provide much evidence that it is well run and managed. I had a chuckle this morning when Steve Simmons on TSN’s “The Reporters” mentioned how an executive search firm hired by the Leafs to find a senior director of hockey operations came up with four names: Holland, Burke, Lamoriello and Lowe. This made me think of the old Sesame Street Song … “Three of things belong together … but one of these things just doesn’t belong …”"

    21. November 26, 2007 at

      Ken, Lowe doesn’t shoot back when ownership criticizes him publicly. To some owners, that’s a valuable asset, so in that sense, maybe it’s Burke that doesn’t belong. (Not to defend Lowe here; the comments Laforge made were inexcusable, and his re-signing Lowe for 4 years is difficult to explain in that light.)

    22. November 26, 2007 at

      Well, I don’t want to seem like I’m Burke’s biggest fan because I think he walked into a great situation in Ana and he himself will admit that the Beauchemin addition in the Marchant/Federov trade, for instance, was one that was suggested to him by his assistant GM Bob Murray. Also, he once thought he could win a Cup with Cloutier and then he signed Bertuzzi in Ana this past summer.

      But, is it possible that Burke didn’t take Penner to arbitration because he looked at Perry and Getzlaf, realized that he would have to pay him, looked at his overall payroll and also thought that the first round pick he was getting for Penner just might turn out to be a jim dandy?

      Or do I have that whole timeline wrong?

    23. November 27, 2007 at

      Dennis, I don’t know that the timeline matters. (Who was the GM in Vancouver when Messier was signed? Wasn’t Burke, was it? Before his time, I think, but maybe.)

      Unless Burke’s a total flaming idiot, he knows that Perry/Getzlaf/Penner are going to cost him in the neighbourhood of 12-15mm in a few years, so one of them has got to go anyway.

    24. November 27, 2007 at

      hah, it was Burke that signed Messier too. Oops.

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