Friday, March 12, 2010

The Rebuild

This post should probably have been made before the deadline but has been inspired by a recent post by a friend on the same topic. Im gonna spend some time to talk about how I would go about the rebuild, how long I expect the rebuild to take and so on. First of all I'll start by saying that I thought Tambellini did a good job at the deadline. He moved a lot of salary, made a steal of a deal moving Staois and as much as I like Vishnovsky, I don't like paying 5.6 million to an again defender who doesn't play tough minutes. The return may of been less than expected but when you factor in his age/salary I'm ok with the return. As for the Grebeshkov deal, its the worst of the 3, I like Grebeshkov the player and likely would have passed on the trade. But 3+ million in cap space plus a 2nd round pick are valuable assets for a rebuilding team. The general impression about the deadline that I am getting from the Oilogosphere has been quite negative but personally I think they are just piling it on - the deadline results were ok. You cant fix a 30th place team in one day and progress was made.

As for the rebuild, I've had a hard time coming up with a concrete plan because I was torn about how to handle next season. On one hand, I really like the idea of burning the season to get another lottery pick - preferably Adam Larsson. If I'm GM of a team, I want to build from the backend out and a player like Larsson/Doughty would impact a team more than a dominant forward. At the same time, your offseason plan cannot be to lose. Your wasting the development of Gagner and Hemsky/Penner would be gone in a season or two. Plus, as as Jonathan Willis points out building a team requires more than a couple good picks. Parity has made it easy to rebuild in the NHL. The Oilers are to shambles. When your 20 points back of the 14th place team in the West, lots of changes need to be made. But the Oilers also were quite unlucky from injuries. They also lacked chemistry due to a bad mix of small players with duplicated skillsets and a leadership core of veterans whose game has left them. In my opinion, fixing these roster issues should be doable in a year or two.

Here is my plan:

1) Draft Taylor Hall. Loosing the lottery would suck but the compensation (Tyler Seguin) is no slouch. This is a no-brainer, get either one of these players and don't go off the board.
2) Move our buyout Ethan Moreau. Similar to 1999 when the Oilers were a bad team and Kelly Buckberger's game was fading, I think the changing of the guard will come. Maybe even make Sam Gagner the next captain. I would say Shawn Horcoff but he has had an off year and has lots of pressure due to his overpaid contract. Moreau has been a good soldier but move on.
3) Move one of Nilsson or O'Sullivan.
4) Play Jordan Eberle at least 40 games in the AHL. As good as he is, Eberle is slow and small. His best asset is his game smarts and learning in the AHL will IMO accelerate the learning process.
5) If you can, move Sheldon Souray. My ideal trade is Souray and Cogliano for Logan Couture. Couture is more of a 2-way player who last year had the highest QCOMP in the AHL (source Derek Zona). I doubt San Jose makes this trade and maybe we need to take salary back to make it happen but I'm just calling shots from the internet here, cut me some slack!
6) Unless an agreement can be made around 2 million/season, resign Brule to a one year contract.
7) Sign a shutdown defender (preferably Dam Hamius) and Aaron Johnson.
8) Make Chorney play in the AHL, dont resign JFJ or Strudwick.

The end result is:

Penner (4.25) - Horcoff (5.5) - Hemsky (4.1) (13.85)
Hall (2.5)- Gagner (3)- Nilsson (2) (7.5)
MPS (1.5) - Couture (0.8) - Pouliot (0.8) (3.1)
Comrie (1) - Poltuny (0.7) - Stone (0.7) (2.4)
Jones (0.7)
Stortini (0.7)

Gilbert (4) - Whitney (4) (8)
Smid (1.5) - UFA (Hamius 3.5) (5)
Johnson (1.0) - Peckham (0.7) (1.7)
UFA (2)

Khabibulin (3.75)
JDD (0.7)

Total of 49.4 but thats optimistic in the Souray trade assuming we dont have to take any salary back.

Comrie has become a versatile player who although small, isn't that soft anymore. I dont mind keeping him around. For some reason, the faith in Pouliot is still there but I doubt he can stay healthy for a whole season. He'd be a player to upgrade. If the Oilers could somehow land Dam Hamius, he's the UFA I'd target. This roster is very best case scenario with cap space to add if needed. The last item is goaltending - the most important position in hockey but also the easiest to fix. If Khabibulin remains healthy, I think this is a playoff team. Otherwise, we could be in a similar situation where poor goaltending gets us in a lottery position. And after-all whats a "Chicago rebuild" without finishing 5th and winning the lottery. Like the Khabibulin contract, its far from ideal but ultimately, with a little luck, I think the playoffs are attainable.
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