Archive for 2016-07-24

EDMONTON OILERS SIGN DAVID MUSIL TO ONE-YEAR CONTRACT

David Musil has signed with the Edmonton Oilers. A $600K contract, He likely won't see much NHL time to start, spending the majority of this year with the Bakersfield Condors, but he's a legit prospect that the Oilers are hoping will take a step forward this year. If he does start with the Oilers, or is called up, Edmonton risks losing him on waivers.

Oilers Sign David Musil to 1-year contract.
Edmonton could have walked from his contract and it wouldn't have been a big surprise, but Musil is the type of defender who will be more a defense first and penalty killer type blue than anything else. The Oilers must think he has a chance to become a six/seven and play some special teams minutes, sliding up in the case of injury.

Musil is 23 years of age, six-foot-four and over 200 pounds. He's partially succeeding despite being slower in a game where speed is making defensmen adapt to a more mobile game. Musil was a second-round pick in the 2011 draft and has spent most of his time in the AHL. In 67 games, he scored 3 goals and 11 assists for 14 points.

There is potential there, but at this point, Musil is still a prospect. 

EDMONTON OILERS: CONTRACTS TOO RICH TO KEEP TEAM TOGETHER

Around this time next year, we'll be talking about the play of Leon Draisaitl and what he's worth to the Edmonton Oilers. Draisaitl will be an RFA at the end of this season and should he have a big year in 2016-17, will make for some interesting decisions by Oiler management. One year from that point, we may have similar discussions about Jesse Puljujarvi.

Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may be too expensive to keep over the long-haul. Photo By Lisa Gansky

The Big Three

Just one month ago, it seemed clear Edmonton wasn't going to be able to afford the big three — Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. With the arrival of Connor McDavid, the drafting of Puljujarvi and the potential emergence of Leon, something would have to give. Hall was shipped to New Jersey for Adam Larsson and the picture became a little clearer. Then Edmonton went and signed Milan Lucic.

This won't be the Oilers in two-three seasons and the juggling is by no means complete. In a salary cap NHL, it's going to be difficult, if not impossible, to have three $6 million dollar forwards, one $9-$10 million dollar forward (McDavid), a $4 million dollar Benoit Pouliot and three defensemen over $4 million per year, all while keeping your high-end draft choices like Draisaitl and Puljujarvi under long-term contracts. Someone will have to go.

Emerging Players

Added complications are players like Patrick Maroon and Brandon Davidson, who if they continue on the pace they set last year, will be due large raises and will become unaffordable assets.  It's yet to be seen if Davidson's progression toward a legit top-pair defenseman is sustainable or just a one-year anomaly, but if his numbers are repeatable, this is a $5 million dollar defenseman in the NHL. Should Maroon start where his previous season ended off, he'll double his salary easily.

Who on this list is expendable? One of these players will likely go to Las Vegas in the NHL expansion draft, but after that, who do you keep and who do you not?  Do you move Jordan Eberle because right-wingers are easier to come by? It's possible Eberle has a career year playing alongside a healthy McDavid. Do you see what Draisaitl becomes and move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, relying on a strong one-two punch of Leon and Connor?

I'm certain the decision to move Taylor Hall was not an easy one for management. Saving $2 million dollars a season would have cushioned the blow a bit when the time came to negotiate contracts for some of the Oilers entry-level talent. Hindsight always has a way of making something a little easier to swallow. But the signing of Milan Lucic, while vital to the depth at forward, creates the same financial questions that existed a month ago.

For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.






Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.


Edmonton Oilers Should Avoid Players Like Evander Kane

Evander Kane, if nothing else, is a headline in the making. Continually gaining media attention for all the wrong reasons, as he so often tends to do, Kane is potentially in legal trouble again. Rumors have begun to swirl that he may be on the outs in Buffalo. There seems to be no direct tie to the Oilers, but if I'm any of the 29 other NHL teams, including the Edmonton Oilers, I look the other way.
Photo by Lisa Gansky

Kane's Newest Legal Issues

Kane's most recent trouble stems from a nightlife incident in Buffalo and according to a police report, Kane allegedly grabbed one woman by the throat and tried to force a second woman from a bar all three had attended that evening.
While pictures surfaced of Kane being handcuffed, he had voluntarily turned himself into police and has been charged with a misdemeanour charge of criminal trespassing and four non-criminal harassment violations.  This is not his only incident this year, as he was investigated for an alleged sexual offense, but no charges were ever laid.
Buffalo General Manager Tim Murray has spoken out in regard to Kane's legal troubles, "He’s going to have to pick and choose his spots when he goes out a lot better than he does, and he’s going to have to behave himself a lot better than he has obviously." "Whether he has done these things or not, or he is guilty of these things or not, it’s not something I like getting up in the morning and reading about that’s for sure."
A Checkered Past
There is an interesting piece done by Evan Peaslee of Sportsnet citing accounts of every major and minor incident Kane had with the Jets before being shipped off to the Sabres. Starting with a questionable photo that surfaced on his Instagram account, issues deal with small and obscure social decisions to trade requests. There's not a team Kane has played for or a city he hasn't played in, where Kane hasn't drawn a lot of unnecessary attention to himself. To say that Kane's relationship in Winnipeg was bumpy would be putting it mildly.
On the Move
If the rumors are true, it appears as though Murray is the latest in a line of hockey people who have grown tired of waiting on Kane to right-the-ship. Drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers fourth-overall in 2009, he moved with the team to Winnipeg (not his fault) and then was traded to the Buffalo Sabres. While talented, his latest move should be partially attributed to his checkered past as there is a documented   history with some of his teammates. He's been known as a problem-child in the dressing room and examples of other players taking matters into their own hands likely only skims-the-surface of his off-ice issues.
Why The Edmonton Oilers Don't Fit
It seems like every year or two, rumors surface that players like Kane are heading to other NHL teams. And, without fail, these same types of players manage to find an interested suitor. In 2009, there was legitimate interest in drafting Kane and the Oilers had hoped he would fall to tenth overall. When it became clear that wasn't going to happen, Edmonton tried to move up to pick him. The cards didn't fall that way and Edmonton wound up selecting Magnus Paajarvi.
As a result, Edmonton rightly or wrongly seems to be in the background when rumors surface that Kane may be headed elsewhere. In a way, it makes sense as Kane is a talented, feisty forward. He has size and a mean streak, which is something the Oilers spent years looking for and recently found in Milan Lucic.
That said, Kane is not a talented enough player to overlook certain issues. He's unlike a player in the mold of Tyler Seguin, whose situation has become all too familiar with Oiler fans. Edmonton GM Peter Chiarelli once famously traded Seguin, after issues surfaced he didn't fit the team culture. Seguin later went on to be one of the NHL's top offensive centers and a star in Dallas. It's a trade that hurt Chiarelli's reputation and he's been recently reminded of it after trading Taylor Hall. 

This situation would be different. The Edmonton Oilers are finally making strides to being a more cohesive team. They're in the middle of a cultural cleanse and adding players with baggage would be muddying those waters. In the particular case of Evander Kane, Edmonton also doesn't need another left winger. With Lucic, Benoit Pouliot and Patrick Maroon, they have money tied up and depth at that position. Most importantly, the Oilers also don't need a player who hasn't seemed to figure out that behavior, respect and accountability count for something.
On-ice Results
When you look at Kane on the ice, he's perhaps not a star, but he's clearly a good player. One would hope to see some progression in his game, but it hasn't really happened. Kane's point totals have dropped every year since the 2013-14 season. His possession numbers are strong, but that's not enough to overlook the issues that come piggy-back to his on-ice performance.
If the Oilers were willing to trade a better player in Hall, who was rumored to have minor chemistry issues, but clearly wasn't a public menace the way that Kane is and has been, it makes little sense to add a lesser player who seems to be trending downward. There appears to be little evidence suggesting Kane has figured out his issues.
Buffalo looks to have lost the trade with Winnipeg that brought Kane to the Sabres. The Oilers already lost a trade this summer. Add those elements to Kane's off-ice issues and trading for him simply isn't a good bet. At $5.25 million over the next two seasons, he'd be an expensive mistake. The rumors seem to be that if Kane is traded, the Canucks will have interest. That's alright by me. 

For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.






Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.



Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.

Connor McDavid Ready to be Next Captain of the Edmonton Oilers

"Will we have a captain? Yeah, we will," Todd McLellan said when interviewed at the Mark Spector Golf Classic. McLellan wouldn't reveal who that captain would be, but most believe Connor McDavid will be told in a matter of weeks the job is his. Undoubtedly, like we do, McDavid sees the writing on the wall.

Photo by Connor Mah

When asked, McDavid noted he wasn't campaigning for the role, but admitted that being named the captain of the Edmonton Oilers would be "one of the greatest honors." A Calder finalist, 48 points in 45 games and already established as a leader off the ice; if it comes to be, this would make McDavid the youngest player in NHL history to captain a team. That previous honor was held by Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche.

Choosing a captain is not always easy and while last year Edmonton went with four assistants; this year, it appears McLellan wants no doubt remaining as to the leader of this team. In the end, realistically, who else could it be? McDavid was bound to be the Oilers captain one day. The only question left is, is that day now?

The opposing list or names are few and far between and only a small group of players would garner consideration. Let's take a look at each realistic option:

Matt Hendricks

If even half the players on the Oilers played with the heart and commitment Hendricks does, McLellan would have a coach's dream team at his disposal. A team full of Hendricks' wouldn't be the most talented team ever assembled, but every coach wants a group of players who never quit, who will stand up for teammates and who will hold others accountable. That is Matt Hendricks to a tee. On the U.S. stage, Hendricks' has been a captain before and he's not lacking leadership qualities. But, he may not be here long-term and that lessens the chances of being placed in any real leadership plans moving forward.

Jordan Eberle


Sometimes captains are chosen based on skill level. If there is a player on the Oilers who qualifies as having a right to captain based on skill, that player is Eberle. Eberle isn't known as a guy who always gives everything he has, but his talent is undeniable. Perhaps what comes with Eberle and what would have come with Taylor Hall, is a losing culture. Eberle has spent his entire career with the Oilers in the basement of the NHL. While there may be no fault tied directly to him, it may require a player who hasn't seen the losses pile up, as Eberle has, to get the ship steered in the right direction.

Milan Lucic


One might not think Lucic is a candidate because his Oiler career is only a few weeks old, but one of the reasons he was brought in was to set a tone for this team. As McDavid described it, Lucic gives the Oilers some swagger they didn't have prior to his arrival.  Lucic wants to change the reputation the Oilers have around the league and he'd be happy to put the team on his back to do so.

It would be an interesting choice as Lucic has described himself, more than once, as a player who has a few screws loose. His reputation precedes him, both in positive and negative ways around the league. To say the least, he'd be an entertaining choice as captain.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins


It might seem strange to put the "C" on a player who has been mentioned all summer in trade rumors, but Nugent-Hopkins is the kind of hockey player, who on both sides of the ice, plays the game "the right way". There are a few Oilers who can learn from his example. Too often, highly talented and skilled forwards on this team have cut corners or shun their responsibilities. Nugent-Hopkins is not one of those players.

Connor McDavid


Looking at all realistic options available, the choice always circles back to McDavid. In half a season, he's proven himself to the most skilled and the player Edmonton plans to build their franchise around. Knowing he's ultimately the captain of this team and showing early signs of leadership, waiting makes little sense.

I'll firmly admit to having jumped on the McDavid bandwagon. He's ready and willing and makes the team better, accountable and leads by example. You can see the small nuances in how he communicates with linemates and they've begun to understand the message. Anything but their best just isn't acceptable.

Who would you pick? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.



Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.

Edmonton Oilers Rumors: Tyson Barrie Just Got a Lot More Expensive

Fans in Edmonton are eagerly awaiting the fallout from Tyson Barrie's July 29th arbitration hearing with the Colorado Avalanche. Hanging to a glimmer of hope that things fall apart with the Avs, Barrie is exactly what the Oilers need to round out their blueline this summer. The problem is, the recent signing of Danny Dekeyser in Detroit just made Barrie a lot more expensive an option.

photo by Bridget Samuels

Danny Dekeyser is a solid, young defenseman who signed a 6-yr, $30 million dollar contract with the Red Wings. Much of that contract is heavily bonus related, but for a player whose has fewer points, plays fewer minutes in an average game and has a little less NHL experience, giving $5 million per season to Dekeyser sets a new bar for the arbitrator in the Barrie case.

Elliotte Friedman has posted that Barrie is asking for a one-year $6 million dollar deal, which would keep him an RFA at the end of the season, while the Avs are looking at two years at $4 and $4.25 respectively. If Colorado can come to terms, it shouldn't surprise anyone if Barrie gets a two-year $5.75 million dollar contract at the least.



In his last three seasons, Dekeyser has 74 points in 223 games. He's averaged around 21:00 minutes per game in that time span. Important to consider is his CF% which has been below 50% in two of those three seasons and his relative CF% rel as low as -5.4%. His zone start times are split pretty evenly between the offensive zone and the defensive zone play. Dekeyser's new contract tells Barrie's arbitrator this kind of production is worth $5 million per year over the long-term.

The Barrie / Dekeyser Comparison


Barrie, in the same three seasons, has almost twice the offensive production with 140 points in 222 games. In the NHL, points get paid. He also averages around 22:00 minutes per game. His CF% hovers between 46% and 50%, but his CF% rel is a positive 2.0-3.9. Barrie clearly shifts the play offensively in a way that Dekeyser does not. Still, while Barrie receives a shade more, Barrie just isn't handed offensive zone starts. Therefore, if Dekeyser is worth $5 million per, Barrie has to be worth at least one to two million more.

It's an interesting comparison and Barrie's camp will surely use it as a starting point in negotiations. While the Avs seem to want people to believe that Barrie isn't a top-flight blueliner, he is. He'll clearly be paid like one now as the bar is set. The fact that he's only asking for one year at $6 million is a blessing for the Avs that they should take and thank their lucky stars.

Oilers Should Be Careful

If the Oilers are in fact waiting for the other shoe to drop, they need to be cautious. Signing or trading for Tyson Barrie isn't a simple thing to do, even if the player wants to come here. Bring in Barrie means moving someone out. 

I've written some other pieces on how signing a player like Barrie will affect the Oilers draft protection in 2017 and knowing that Barrie is virtually guaranteed a long-term contract in the $5-$6 million range makes considering the ramifications of bringing him in even more critical to consider.

For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.



Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.


Tyler Pitlick: The Edmonton Oilers' Experiment

The Edmonton Oilers have seen their fair share of injuries. Yet of all the injuries sustained by Oiler players and prospects, none have seen more time away than 24-year-old prospect and on-the-verge NHLer Tyler Pitlick. Pitlick was signed to his third consecutive one-year contract this summer and because of how little he plays, it seems to have gone relatively unnoticed.
Photo By Connor Mah
Pitlick oozes the type of prospect characteristics every NHL franchise might want. He's feisty and likes to hit, he has speed and skill and he gives you his maximum effort every time he hits the ice. The problem is, Pitlick has the worst luck.  Since being drafted 31st overall in 2010, Pitlick simply hasn't been durable. And, since 2013, Pitlick hasn't been able to get into more than 39 games in a single season.

Injuries

Pitlick has been called up twice with the Oilers. Both tenures were short, ending quickly due to injuries that would derail his progression as a prospect. In 2013-14 he missed time after hurting his knee in the same game he scored his first NHL goal. It was likely the high-point of his hockey career, followed by the low-point of his hockey career. After he recovered, he earned another call-up, but it didn't take long before he was hurt again and missed the remainder of the year. The following season, Pitlick played 14 games with Edmonton but was sidelined for four months with a lacerated spleen.
Edmonton's AHL team, the Bakersfield Condors (formerly Oklahoma City Barons), have been subject to his missing games as well. Despite his being an effective player at the AHL level, he played only 37 of 76 possible games in the 2015-16 season and hasn't had a full, healthy season with either the Barons or the Condors.

On-ice Results

When healthy, it's not as though Pitlick is a world-beater. In the 27 NHL games he's had a chance to show his stuff, Pitlick has managed only three goals and no assists. He's also a consistently a minus +/- player. In 2013-14, he had a CF% of 41.5 and a CF% rel -3.1, which is nothing to write home about.
His best season was the 2013-14 campaign in Oklahoma where he potted 22 points in 39 games. That season he was also a plus +/- player for the only time in his career and it was this production that earned him his call-up with the big club. He hasn't been able to get himself back to that kind of player since.

Why Oilers, Why?

With all the time Pitlick has missed, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see the Oilers wash their hands of him. In his six seasons, there is very little evidence to suggest he'll ever be a player that will help them win hockey games. Knowing this, why are the Oilers so slow to let Pitlick go?
The answer is curiosity. Because he's missed so much time, the Edmonton Oilers don't really know what they have yet and Pitlick is a relatively risk-free signing. He's a low cap hit on a two-way deal, who takes nothing more than a roster spot on the 50-man player list. His signing is an experiment to see if Pitlick can ever live up to his potential.
Pitlick has proven nothing, yet he has those intangibles most teams want. He plays a heavy game, is a beast on the forecheck and can skate well for a 200-plus pound player. He's the personification of what Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli described he wanted in his players when he first took the GM position.
The reality is, Pitlick has done far less in more time than prospects who have already been sent packing. But, if he can stay healthy and some luck finally starts to roll his way, he could be a value deal. In short, Pitlick is a low-cost, potentially high-reward risk.
Signing Tyler Pitlick wasn't about what he's done to deserve another contract. Signing Tyler Pitlick was about finding out what this player truly is, or could ever be. He needs a healthy season to show his stuff, and if he doesn't, this is likely his last opportunity to prove people right.

For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.






Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.



Want to start spilling your sports gut? We're looking for writers. Go here.

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