Goodbye Lubo, Farewell Stevie, Hello Ryan and the Rebuild?

Goodbye Lubo. You will be seriously missed. The best player the Oilers had all year, the best natural skater since Paul Coffey has been traded for former 1st Round pick Ryan Whitney, formerly of both Anaheim and Pittsburgh. Lubo was the most talented player on the Oilers for the past two years and made everyone around him better. He was an incredible skater with a wicked point shot, and really helped to develop the skills of the (departed) Dennis Grebeshkov and Ladi Smid. The Pens drafted Whitney 5th overall about a decade back and he has been an inconsistent player ever since. His best year was 06-07 for the Pens when he scored 14 goals and had 59 points, following it up with a 12 goal, 40 point season in 07/08. However Whitney has had a total of 8 goals in the past two seasons. Whitney was a member of the US Olympic team and played decent in Vancouver. A good comparison for him is current Oiler Tom Gilbert in terms of both size and skill-set. He is not as strong a skater but certainly has an equally good shot if not better. At 27 years old and locked in until 2013, Whitney could work out to be a solid long-term pick up. Effectively Whitney replaces Grebs as a top four guy, but not Lubo as a top 2. This could change though, based on draft pedigree and sheer potential.

In other news, Steve Staios has been shipped to Calgary for Aaron Johnson and a 3rd. Johnson is a UFA at the end of the year and a 3rd is a 3rd. This is a good move for the future, clearing out a bunch of cap space to prepare for the rebuild. What is bizarre is how a warrior who has bled copper and blue for nine years is going to be able to even pull on that horrible, vile, disgusting flaming C and be able to look at himself n the mirror. I for one would rather walk away. I also see that Sutter is officially in cap hell. Johnson makes less than 600K and is a UFA this year, while Staios makes a lot more and is locked in for one more year. I will really miss Staios, a real blood and guts kind of guy who in his prime was a player who represented the spirit of those hard working teams from the Lowtide/early MacT era. He was a fearless, selfless warrior and always played the game with passion and heart. Goodbye Stevie, and Good luck!
The trades do many things for the Oilers, clearly in full on rebuild mode now. These moves, coupled with the loss of the Acid Eater open up a lot of cap space to sign the newest batch of kids, re-sign Gagner and maybe the inevitable whale hunt of the summer. I don't know how I feel about these moves aside from what they do for the cap. These players were very good in their prime and will be missed dearly by the fans of this downtrodden team, but they were (unfortunately) unnecessary for the future.

To Lubo and Stevie; best of luck to you in your futures. May you both find success with your new teams. The fans thank you for your efforts, especially over these past few very dark years. You will be missed.

To Ryan Whitney; welcome to the fun, and good luck.

Go Oilers,


Bruce said...

Well said, Shepso. The Oilers got younger, bigger, and cheaper, all necessary things. They did not, however, get more skilled or more passionate.

Unfortunately when a multi-year project is at hand, keeping a couple guys with a combined 70 years on the odometer is not the solution, no matter how much you might like them.

shepso said...

It's Staios' passion that I'll miss the most. He may not have had the most skill in his prime, but he and Jason Smith knew how to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the team. Staios was always a leader in blocked shots, hits, and really lived up to the "steady" in his nickname. Sure, younger, bigger, cheaper is good, but the void in terms of leadership and passion will be difficult to replace.

Darren said...

I always had trouble critizing Staios, despite how predictable and inept at clearing the zone he could be at times.
I recall a game I went to this year (I think it was vs Washington?) and the Oil were 2 men down and he takes 2 consecutive shots hard off his body, and completed the PK. Got a loud ovation for that one and that is Staios to a T in my mind.