Tollefsen beating the crap out of Fraser

As the Steve Tambellini sits on his laurels some of the NHL’s best UFA deals are slowly being plucked away at discount prices. Remind me again what his mission plan was?

As Pendergast said in an interview, it looks like we’re going into training camp with pretty much the same team. Now it’s true that it’s better to make a good thoughtful move than a bad rash decision, but there’s also such a thing called timing. And with the kind of timing the Oilers have, we’re not going to be adding players to this team – we’re going to keep subtracting instead.

Farewell Brodziak. So long Kotalik.

With the Oilers focused on Khabibulin, Heatley, and Reddox, it seems that many great deals have just slipped away.

Goaltenders that slipped away:

Marty Biron – I don’t buy the story that the Oilers had no idea he would go so cheap, all that shows is that they didn’t bother with making him an offer, which is just plain lazy; Biron may not be the best #1 goalie in the league but his stats were better than Dwayne Roloson‘s and he sure is a lot cheaper than Nikolai Khabibulin.

Jason LaBarbera Рthe Oilers archnemesis signed a 2-year 2 M contract with the Coyotes this summer; he makes a good 1A or 1B and would allow the Oilers to either commit to Jeff DesLauriers as a backup or trade him for someone  else they can trust with playing more than 10 games.

Fredrik Norrena – it’s actually not that surprising that the Oilers let this guy go since it happened more than once; he was on waivers back in December and the SEL goaltending star went back to Europe to play after being sent down to Columbus’ farm team in Syracuse. He signed in Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL and proceeded to lead the team to the Kontinental Championship. I don’t know why Scott Howson thought he was an incapable backup at the NHL level but Norrena is certainly better than recent Flyers recruits Ray Emery and Robert Esche. Norrena has since re-signed with the SEL powerhouse Link√∂ping.

Recent D signings that are cheaper than Steve Staios:

Ole-Kristian Tollefsen – this guy seriously is one tough customer; he made 750 K last year on Columbus and does everything a defensive D-man should do; he has a Corsi of 9.9 which isn’t too bad for a guy like him; Philadelphia is making a lot of smart roster moves and this is one of them

Greg Zanon – come on?! This guy is a shot-blocking machine and is a legend on the interwebs due to what seems to be very favourable advanced stats rating; how appropriate that he should end up on the roster of Northwest division rival, the defensive Minnesota Wild …

Shane Hnidy – he’s not tough like Tollefsen and he’s not as reliable as Zanon but Hnidy is definitely what you’re looking for in a stay-at-home defenseman; acquiring a guy like this would allow the Oilers to either promote Ladislav Smid or trade him

Depth D-men still available:

Steve Eminger – he’s not a significant upgrade on Smid or Staios but he’s got some offense and he was producing it on some pretty bad teams; he made 1.2 M last year but shouldn’t be getting a significant raise

Tomas Mojzis – this Czech D-man is relatively unknown in the NHL but comes at a cheap price as an AHL veteran, and he runs laps around Staios and Strudwick in the stats dept.

Ossi Vaananen – this D-man was outshot by a wide margin, but his teammates somehow outscored his opponents by 8 goals while he was on the ice; this tough-as-nails D-man would see limited ice time but would deliver on the goods; according to Sportsnet “Has prototypical NHL size. Loves to bang bodies. Moves the puck efficiently and is defensively responsible.

Cap issues: what happens if we have to trade…

Steve Staios? – I think there are plenty of cheap UFA options, including the three I mentioned, still available to the Oilers; there’s also Christian Backman and though he wouldn’t be a cheaper option, he’d definitely be an upgrade

Ladislav Smid? – I think the Oilers would save money by keeping him but in a worst-case scenario, Theo Peckham and Jason Strudwick both get more ice time and the Oilers will consider signing a depth D-man, such as the three I mentioned

Sheldon Souray? – There’s no replacing his bomb on the point (though Lubo has a pretty mean point shot of his own) and the leadership factor by going through the UFA wire, but there a lots of stop gap offensive D-men still available, among them David Tanabe, Sergei Zubov. The first is a bit questionable in his own zone and the second one is a big questionable when it comes to age and durability. Another option is Marc-Andre Bergeron but we’re already well aware of his strengths and flaws.

Tom Gilbert? – see Sheldon Souray

Lubomir Visnovsky? – in my opinion, Lubo’s an untouchable