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Northwest Check - Edmonton Oilers Off-Season Review

Day 2 of the Off-Season Reviews of our Northwest Division brethren takes us to the Canadian wasteland that is Edmonton. A team in a full-blown rebuild, the Oilers finished at the bottom of the NHL standings for the second straight season last year and with their current roster are looking to take the title home for a third straight season. It is the NHL so anything could happen (like tomorrow's team, Minnesota, finishes dead last because they're terrible, too) but with the goaltending tandem they're running out there (the same as last season's) they're going to struggle to win games on a nightly basis.

Read below the jump to see what our fellow cellar-dwellers were up to this summer. Beware: lots of veteran presence and AHL talent lies ahead ^_^

Note: The numbers in parentheses is some super secret formula I came up with to use as a means of evaluation that always makes it look like the Oilers are actually better than the Avalanche.

Edmonton Oilers

Players Acquired:

F Ryan Jones - 2 years, $3 million, $1.5M AAV : Ah, Ryan Jones. The number of unflattering nicknames I came up with for him last season hit double digits when the season mercifully concluded April 10. I suppose that means he was doing his job, eh? Here's a guy who seems to know who he is. He doesn't pass particularly well so his assist numbers are low but he's not tough enough to be full-time enforcer type so his PIMs are low but he's a guy who has always found a reasonable amount of success scoring goals. His line last year was 18 goals and 7 assists for 25 points. That's crazy! For a $1.5M cap hit, it's reasonable to see what he can do in another NHL season or two. If he can be a 15 goal scorer every year on the fourth line, you have yourself a pretty valuable commodity. (8.888)

D Ladislav Smid - 2 years, $4.5 million, $2.25M AAV : Smid is one of the leaders of the defense voted by Oilers fans to be far and away better than the defense the Avalanche will ice this season (I'm sorry, I had to). He plays a decent defensive game but doesn't really provide any kind of offense whatsoever. Still just 25, Smid is entering the prime of his career and I expect to see him on the Oilers blue line for the next several years. (3.6)

F Darcy Hordichuk - 1 year, $825K, $825K AAV : This is a signing I guess I don't really understand for the Oilers. Although a fixture in the NHL since 2002, Hordichuk doesn't score you points, doesn't play great defense, and just finds himself in the penalty box a lot. Maybe I just think the enforcer role has become antiquated so this signing represents more maddening decision-making by front offices around the NHL for continuing to waste a roster spot on a one-dimensional player whose dimension isn't nearly as important as it once was. It's just one year, though, so they're smarter than us. Their fan base must be rubbing off on them. (5.4722)

F Ben Eager - 3 years, $3.3 million, $1.1M AAV : And then this happened. Anytime you can sign both Darcy Hordichuk AND Ben Eager to fill out your already talent-starved forward core, you just have to do it, right? You can't say no to both guys. Maybe they offered a contract to each guy and said "If the other guy accepts first, we're pulling your offer" and then both guys accepted at the same time and they got stuck. Ben Eager for three years??? (-.097)

F Eric Belanger - 3 years, $5.25 million, $1.75M AAV : I love this signing. This is a guy who is nearing the twilight of his career but can provide the kind of veteran presence the extremely young Oilers roster could really use and is actually productive on the scoreboard. He's a solid character guy who did great work in Phoenix and if Edmonton can pull the same kind of effect from him the Coyotes did this is going to end up as one of the more underrated signings of the off-season. I loved this move. Just to see if Cheryl reads this, he did play one game for the Long Beach Ice Dogs back in 1999. (11.2111)

D Cam Barker - 1 year, $2.25 million, $2.25M AAV : Anytime bad defensive teams let young, talented players go for free you should absolutely sign them to a $2 million contract. At least it's only one year and their defense was in such shoddy shape Barker should come in and take up a spot. If he realizes his vast potential, this is a straight steal by the Oilers. If he doesn't, well, at least their fans on the internet think they have a better defense than the Avalanche! (3.9775)

D Theo Peckham - 1 year, $1.075 million, $1.075M AAV : Once described as a "new age enforcer" because of his willingness to throw down but enough hockey ability to not be a liability on the ice, Peckham is a guy who needs to use the Oilers current lackluster situation at defense to his advantage and prove he belongs in the NHL. Smart money says he isn't a long-term solution on the blue line for the Oilers or anyone else but hey, at least the Oilers fans on the internet thought their defense was better than the Avs! (0.00)

D Taylor Chorney - 1 year, $735K, $735K AAV : AHL depth. I'm just going to call Chorney the Oilers version of David Liffiton, only younger. I have no idea about him other than he's not very good but I had to type his name 5523632 times last season when he got called up and sent back down every other day. At least he got his frequent flier miles, amirite or amirite? (.24537348)

C Ryan O'Marra - 1 year, $735K, $735K AAV : The Oilers version of Justin Mercier, I guess. I really just don't know a lot about all these young guys who shuffled between Oklahoma City and Edmonton a lot last season. Maybe if Mike happens to read this he can drop in and tell you more about some of these Barons players because I'm pretty useless. His career numbers suggest he isn't anything more than roster depth in the minors but the Oilers felt him good enough to call up to the big team last season so I guess there was something intriguing about him. (4.213637)

D Andy Sutton (Trade with Anaheim): Anaheim needed some offensive punch to go along with Lubomir Visnovsky, whose career year likely won't be repeated, so they gave up on Mr. Replay himself Andy Sutton in order to secure the services of Kurtis Foster. The Oilers and Ducks essentially switched one-dimensional players. When Sutton is healthy and going right, he's a very solid defensive defenseman and provides another veteran presence on the blue line to help bring some of these young kids along. (347.47374)

F Ryan Smyth (Trade with Los Angeles): Smyth is clearly on his last legs in the NHL and his desire to finish his career closer to home led him to ask LA to trade him to either Edmonton or Calgary. Because Calgary doesn't like making smart moves of any kind (or have the cap space, really), Smyth is back in Edmonton after a contentious trade involving the injured Colin Fraser. I love the move for the Oilers because they didn't give up anything and they get a guy who can help out extremely talented but green wingers the Oilers are loaded up with. (6.250000)


Players Lost:

C Andrew Cogliano (traded to Anaheim)
D Kurtis Foster (traded to Anaheim)
LW Jean-Francois Jacques (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim)
RW Zack Stortini (unrestricted free agent, signed by Nashville)
D Jim Vandermeer (unrestricted free agent, signed by San Jose)
D Sheldon Souray (contract bought out, signed by Dallas)
C Colin Fraser (traded to Los Angeles)
G Jeff Deslauriers (unrestricted free agent, signed by Anaheim)
LW Liam Reddox (restricted free agent, signed by Swedish club Vaxjo)
G Martin Gerber (unrestricted free agent, signed by Swedish club Vaxjo)
D Jason Strudwick (unrestricted free agent)


Overall, I think you could easily make the argument the Oilers did more to help themselves this off-season than the Flames did. The Flames seem determined to remain in neutral until Iginla retires and gives them the excuse they're looking for to finally blow it up and rebuild. The Oilers, however, are starting to looking at complementing the up-and-coming kid starts with veterans to show them the ropes and teach them what winning in the NHL is all about. The Oilers aren't quite there yet but they're going to be there very soon and when they get there they're going to be a real pain to deal with.