Looking in the Crystal Ball

Well I had a good visit from fellow blogger Shepso last night.  It was really fun: he came to my class and afterwards well got really drunk.  So drunk that I might have failed my French test this afternoon, and I bruised my sternum by falling on my over turned tupperware container I use as a coffee table.  Why am I telling you all this, because we didn't talk about hockey that much.  Now this is a rare situation in our lives, but the 10-2 shellacking the Oil were subjected to killed our normal appetite to talk about the Oil.

Well, the supposed weakness that the lose displayed is between the pipes.  I stopped watching it shortly after the third goal and we didn't score on the two power plays we were presented with.  'Cause of this I am  not going to criticizes our tenders but instead look into the future.

What type of strategy works in the NHL today.  I will suggested there is the one which you get a big name goalie with a good track record and pay them a truck load: we can call this the franchise goalie model.  Or there is the fact you spend your money on the team and hire some slightly below average goalies to keep you in the game:  Detroit model.  Or lastly you have the tandem model where you get two decent keepers and run them as a pair: traditional teams with depth run this model, think Minnesota a couple years back. 

In terms of salary cap, the franchise model will cost you between 7 and 9 million (six or so for the number one, and another million for the backup), the Detroit model will cost about 2 million (one each for the two you get, both career back ups), and the tandem modal will cost about 4-5 million (a veteran that costs 2-3 and a relief pitcher that cost 1-2).  In any of these models using a young'en for the back up will save you between 0.25-1 million, the higher the draft pick the lower the savings.

Which one should the Oilers use?  This is relevant because at the end of the season they will have to make a decision on going forward.

I don't like the franchise goal strategy because if they have an injury or start playing bad the team is kinda fucked  Also there are only a handful of true elite tenders so not every team can go this route.  But it does have an advantage in the playoffs, when the difference in goaltending might decide the series.  The Red Wings don't use this method and they still win, so it is not a lock.  As a fan I like the tandem mode, but tenders like to be the number 1 so from a mental strategy approach it might not be the best idea.

I was hoping to get this guy for a cool million bucks (on a one year contract) in the summer.  I figured he be cheap and motivated to play, unless he really likes Russia.  But seeing that Lowe would not risk one of the old boys getting punched, I doubt they hire him.  But who else is available:

the 5 million dollar men
Niklas Backstrom: sporting a 2.19 GAA and 0.927 Sav%

Middle weights ( $2.5-4 millions men)
Manny Fernandez: 2.07 GAA and 0.928
Nikolai Khabibulin: 2.35 and 0.924
Tim Thomas: he might be on the 5 million dollar list, if not on the higher side of this one

the million or two guys
Scott Clemmensen: has played well in relief in NJ (2.25 GAA and 0.923 Sav%)
Brent Johnson: 2.74 and 0.909 in the Washington net
Manny Legace: 3.12 GAA and 0.888 on a terrible team
Joey MacDonald:  3.27 and 0.900 (I think he will get offers, since he has been one of the few non-disgusting things about the Islanders this year)
Dwanye Roli: if he is close to a million, I'd sign him no problem JDD is not the best positional goal and this man can teach him any Hasek tricks he picked up
Mikael Tellquist: not bad number in the desert (2.75 and 0.913)

the less then a million dollar men
Peter Budaj: 2.91 GAA and 0.899 Sav%
Marc Denis: only played one game in MTL , they have too many goalies, is a UFA and could be a good backup
Gerber: washed up? or just playing on a terrible team
Jason LaBarbera: terrible terrible stats
Curtis Sanford: career back up, might get a league minimum contract (which he will be happy about)
Andrew Raycroft: both COL goalies on this list, they are going to be big time buyers in this market (I am willing to take bets, that they over pay for a goalie in the summer)

(I left Joesph , Norrena, and Garon off because I don't think either could, or should be signed.)

The guys in grey text are the ones I think are of interest.  My solution: go out guns a blazing for Backstrom (if we pay too much, at least the Wild don't have him and maybe we can beat them one day), and back-up plan is either Roli or the Bulin Wall on ONE YEAR contracts (Roli for 1.7 Million and Khabibulin for $2.4-3 Million).

What do you think?



I think there are about a third of NHL teams who will ever at one point have a consistently game-breaking, elite goalie. There's another handful of teams that will have a starting goalie who is a consistent liability. The middle of the pack, in my opinion (Maybe because I was always a forward?) don't represent enough of a reasonable, 50-65 game difference between them to justify worrying about it. So long as the Oilers don't fall off the back end with goal tenders, don't throw all that cash chasing an elite keeper. This is an essentially offensive-minded team, (minded, mind you) and the core of the club's play should be to offensively pair Big Money Long Termers, Hemsky and Horcoff, with another elite goal scorer. Hossa for example would have been a better deal for the Oilers than Backstrom could ever be. Which makes the lynching of Garon even more frustrating for me, because next year the Oilers could very well slip off the back end of keepers, be forced to pay someone to fill the net and leave Hemsky hanging. It was a completely shortsighted philosophy, in my opinion.

So if you are talking about philosophy moving forward, pay big bucks to one or two goal scorers and try not to get a keeper that will cost you more than 10 games a year.

Though, I am starting to think that the NHL is a crapshute. 5, 10 or 15 years ago, two teams separated by a few points in the standings wouldn't play in a 10-2 game. You also didn't have 10 teams struggling from mid playoffs to the bottom of the pack. Anyone can and will beat anybody else on any given night and for every philosophic strategy that works, there is one that doesn't. (Vancouver). Thats why I think the best strategy is to ship out the coaching staff and front office: The NHL is all about intangibles now, not broad strategy. This is why Calgary wins games. Its not just Mikka and Iggy - half the teams in the league have the star power Calgary does (And I still think the Oilers "are" "deeper") but they have obviously found a style, pairings and mindset that allow them to win games. Same goes with Boston. In short, they simply play better hockey. If your coaching staff can't find the keys to success with a team substantially more skilled than the Blue Jackets - Its time to change the chemistry.

shepso said...

2 words: Josh Harding.
2 more words: Offer Sheet
Numbers:.929sv, 2.17GAA
Age: 25

Cut the chord with JDD. He is awful. He looks afraid of the puck right now, and that was only after the first goal he allowed. I wanted to like him, and maybe I am just bitter about tuesday and still hungover from our drunk even now, two full days later (sorry about the test btw), re-sign Roli to a one year and ride the Harding wave as goalie of future. Sign him to a 4 yr, 3.2Mil(avg)/yr contract and we'll have ourselves an elite goalie from the Jacques Lemaire school of trap-happy tenders. I guarantee it. Either that or we should try and steal LeClaire...

shepso said...

Oh, and I was wrong. Harding is 24, same age as JDD, but in his 49 NHL games, including 29 last year his numbers are 2.53 and .918. .918???!!!! Yes, let us offer sheet the young Harding. We know Backstrom is going to get a sweet deal from Minny and Harding would probably like to start at some point in the next 2 years. He can do it. I believe in this prospect from Regina. .918 in the NHL at his age is pretty unreal.

B.C.B. said...

I was only looking at the unrestricted free agents, not the RFA. But Harding could be a target, but not at $3.2mil a year and here is why:
A) MIN would have to first sign Backstrom to a large contract (say over 5.5 million) for them not to match.
B) at 3.2million we would be giving up a first and a third round pick. Just a reminder over 1.307 million it is a second round pick, over 2.615 million it is a 1st and a 3rd, and over 3.923 million it is a 1st/ 2nd / 3rd.
Either the oilers offer 2.614 (and the 2nd round pick) or they offer 3.9 (1st/3rd). I say this because you want to push the Wild against the cap with giving up the fewest number of picks possible. At 2.6 million MIN matches since he is worth more then a 2nd rounder.
C) COL is being swinging for a home run at the goalie position this summer. I don't not want to see Thomas and Backstom both in the division: the Oilers already have some of the weakest tending in the division.
D) MIN tenders have better numbers then other teams player since the benefit from the defensive play, and Harding also plays the weaker teams, so I would think his numbers are artifically low.

How about Biron? I forgot about him . . . could ha come for a cool 2 million,

shepso said...

Biron eh? I like it, but we seem to have a problem with handling french canadian goalies in the K-Lowe regime. Your points about Harding are all true, but I feel as though his numbers would remain relatively close to where they are now. Maybe that .918 and 2.53 turn into .913/2.65 and it's still an upgrade on reliability compared to JDD, with potential long term uber-upside. Someone like 'Builn or Biron would really only be 1-2 year stopgaps before DD comes up from the farm maybe? I am not sold on him either, but at least he is proving to a workhorse on the farm. I like the workhorse goalie, personally. 1/1A Tandems give me the fear. Ideally I would love to see a clear number 1 play 55-60 games and a solid backup playing the rest.
I didn't know the offer sheet specifics, good stuff.
Finally, the idea of Backstrom and Thomas in our division with Luongo and Kipper too...It's already bad enough without Thomas. Fortunately Kipper's finally starting to show a few cracks in his armor (by which I mean his chain smoking between periods is catching up to him) and we seem to be ok against Luongo, but still, thats not a good situation to be facing for the long term.

B.C.B. said...


Good point about Biron or 'Bulin being a stop gap, because that is what I want. Most goalies signed to long term contracts turn out to under perform: Bulin, Kipper, Turco, Theodore, etc . . . Those signed to short contracts tend to out perform: Garon (in his one year), Thomas, etc . . .

Since goalies are often hot and cold (from one season to the next), why are GM throwing money at them like they are going out of style (Huet is a good example of this). All veteran goalie contracts should be one or two years. This is a win-win situation: if they play terrible you can get rid of them, and if they play well they get a raise.

Who ever gives Thomas a big raise will be regretting it in a few years (not for the amount at the beginning but for the length of the contract),I also most hope it is COL, because I would like to see them hamstrung in two or three years.

If we wanted to after Harding, we would have to trader JDD first, since I wouldn't want two young men in net, and no-one will give a 7th rounder for JDD if we have just poached a goalie and we have three on the roster.

Lets look at Europe to find goalies, the NHL backup are either that or they don't get the playing time to develop. check out http://www.oilersnation.com/2009/01/random-stuff-khl-goaltenders/
by Jonathon of the ON