Editor’s note: the following will be featured on lowonoil.com as soon as some site maintenance has been completed.
It is an exciting day to be an Oilers fan! Long forgotten and forgiven is the team’s meteoric sink to the bottom of the NHL standings last year. Tonight we celebrate as our future arrives in the form of one of two 18 year old top prospects. From where I sit, the question of Taylor or Tyler seems to have quieted down to an expectation of Taylor Hall donning the Oilers jersey.
Hall is going to be great, though I am on the record as preferring Tyler Seguin on the fact* that Stanley Cup winners are born and bred through star talent up the middle. I am also on the record in claiming that Jason Spezza might have been a better draft pick than Ilya Kovalchuk back in 2001. As luck would have it, both Spezza and Kovalchuk are on the market and there are a few rumours bubbling that the Oilers might bring Spezza into the fold.
* If taking a small sample of the Stanley Cup winners the past decade and loosely drawing a conclusion about the common theme of superior centre icemen constitutes a fact…
I love the idea of getting Spezza into an Oilers uniform. Assuming we select Hall, the addition of Spezza truly gives the Oilers a #1 line. Gone would be the days of rounding Penner, Horcoff/Gagner up to the first line. A line of Spezza/ Hall/ Hemsky would be downright scary for the opposition. Large questions would remain in net and on the blue line, but I am not suggesting the addition of Hall and Spezza makes the Oilers Stanley Cup contenders. Not yet anyways.
I have not paid much attention to the specifics of the Spezza rumours though they probably range from wishful thinking (Ottawa accepts all of our broken parts) to realistic (Penner or Hemsky goes the other way). In either event, the reality of trades in today’s NHL is that the salaries need to line up. The Oilers would struggle to accept Spezza’s $7 million cap hit without roughly $7 million going the other way.
Here is a suggestion to the Oilers brass:Jason Spezza and Jonathan Cheechoo ($10 million 2010-11 cap hit) for: Sheldon Souray and Dustin Penner ($9.7 million cap hit)
If I am Ottawa, I want a defenseman given Anton Volchenckov’s likely departure this summer. I would also want some quality up front to make up for the loss of Spezza. A centre would be ideal, but they are not going to accept Horcoff or Cogliano. I would probably prefer Hemsky, but would settle for Penner.
If I am Edmonton, I am not excited about having to take back Cheechoo, who will make $3 million next year. The reason I take him is that next year is the last year of his contract and his value could not possibly be lower. The deal reminds me of the NBA and the value of acquiring expiring contracts. Cheechoo may do nothing for the Oilers next season, but he will free up $3 million in cap space in 2011-2012. That has value.