Take a load off, Annie

Jonathan Willis
November 08 2012 10:08AM

Ever since Bob Stauffer broke out his “wow factor” trade rumour the other day, there’s been a thought that has stuck with me, and it’s about the summer of 2013. It will be an important one for the Oilers, and while many fans will be untroubled by a date so far in the future, the guys in the front office had better have it marked in red.

The Oilers have a long list of salary cap obligations coming to a conclusion that summer. Here’s the list of $1.0 million and up ticket items coming off the books:

Player Cap Hit Expiry
Ryan Whitney $4.00 million UFA
Nikolai Khabibulin $3.75 million UFA
Sam Gagner $3.20 million RFA
Ladislav Smid $2.25 million RFA
Andy Sutton $1.75 million UFA
Magnus Paajarvi $1.53 million RFA
Sheldon Souray $1.5 million LOL
Ryan Jones $1.50 million UFA
Theo Peckham $1.08 million RFA

Put it all together and that’s a little under $21 million in cap space being cleared.

And (and) (and) you put the load right on me

A bunch of that money is already spent.

Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall go from a combined cap hit a shade under $5 million annually to an even $12 million. Three key players on the expiry list – Ladislav Smid, Sam Gagner and Ryan Whitney – will either need to be re-upped or replaced.

If the Oilers have a big trade in the works, a guy like Gagner, Whitney or Nick Schultz ($3.5 million annual cap hit) might be integral to the deal, playing the role Eric Brewer played in the summer of 2005.

Even without assuming a trade that brings in a big contract – we’re talking about a Schultz+ for Jay Bouwmeester or Gagner+ for Patrick Marleau style of swap (hypothetical names; feel free to substitute a Luongo or Wisniewski or Tyutin) – Smid’s getting a raise for sure and the combination of Gagner and Whitney/Whitney-caliber defenceman aren’t likely to be all that much cheaper next year than they were this year.

That’s not all of it, either. The salary cap seems likely to be dipping in time for the 2013-14 season (assuming the talk of a transition year before the players’ share of hockey revenue hits 50/50 has merit) and guys like Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov will start getting paid around that time too. Nugent-Hopkins’ entry-level deal expires in the summer of 2014; Yakupov’s will probably be finished the year after.

Wait a minute, Chester, you know I’m a peaceful man

When Bob Stauffer talks about an NBA-style buyout clause – where a team could conceivably buyout a current contract in the summer of 2013 to be compliant with the dropping 2013-14 salary cap rather than being forced to make a decision now – it doesn’t take any insight at all to know who he’s talking about.

We have looked at the structure of Shawn Horcoff’s contract with a buyout in mind previously. The cap hit won’t be awful if he’s bought out in the summer of 2013, but in concert with the other salary cap pressures on the Oilers at that time it will be decidedly unwelcome. With an amnesty clause the Oilers could spend less than $5 million in actual money and clear away $11 million in cap hit.

She’s the only one who sent me here with regards for everyone

Photo: Resolute/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

Assuming that the lockout leads to flat revenue growth (or whatever flat revenue growth would be, minus money lost to missed games) and that 2012-13 is the lone transition year, we should be looking at a 2013-14 salary cap in the $61.5 million range (this year’s cap, minus the 12 percent lost by the players in a drop in their share from 57 percent to 50 percent HRR).

The way I figure the roster – Smid making about $4 million, Gagner/Whitney or their replacements making the same as they do now, some small money changes to players in depth roles up front, on defence, and in net – the Oilers are going to have trouble making that 2013-14 salary cap even if they are allowed to send Horcoff down the line without cap hit ramifications.

There are ways around that – cheaping out on the backup goalie or the depth forwards, for instance – but it is too be hoped that the Oilers have a long-term salary cap plan thought through before they pull the trigger on a big deal. Chicago won the Stanley Cup in 2009-10, but that summer they had to send away a lot of useful guys because of items like the Brian Campbell contract.

It’s a dangerous time, and there are going to be temptations along the way. The right moves will help the Oilers build a contender sooner rather than later. The wrong ones will just add weight.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 rubbertrout
November 08 2012, 11:51AM
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Also JW, the Souray "LOL" contact expiry status made me smile.

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#3 LoDog
November 08 2012, 10:01PM
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Sanaa Montana wrote:

A cheeseburger?

I think the cheese is an overpay, just a burger should do.

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#4 Archaeologuy
November 08 2012, 10:22AM
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So you're saying the Oilers should trade for Ville Leino?

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#6 NewAgeSys
November 08 2012, 11:58AM
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Whitney,Khabby,Horcoff,Sutton,N Schultz,Bellanger,take your pick .

Whitney cant give us value for dollars our forwards are faster more skilled and more catalysed by a possesion/transition mindset than the team we had when we aquired Ryan.

Khabby is just high end playoff insurance at this point of his career--we dont need that quite yet.

Gagner is about to bust out with around a PPG performance and put a massive screw in our plans,so consider his salary going up.And him going nowhere.Sam is in a perfect position to literally explode offensively with Yakupov by his side,I think Sam will aim for 30+ goals--and finish his next full season with near a PPG pace.If he is left on the 2nd line all year he will take the team to another level as we have been missing the 2nd line offensive punch for many years.

Jones has shown he can produce goals 5 on 5 from all 4 lines already,that is excellent versatility and he has shown above average leadership skill--he will be hard to beat out for his job description,only overwhelmingly more offense will unseat him and he isnt exactly chopped liver he can score consistantly.You better be a 25 or more goal guy to replace him and all of his dimensions.I dont see that kind of offense coming up quite yet for his system slot.And his leadership is something he has evolved into it wasnt on his resume so we cant overlook it at all.

Smid is the teams defensive anchor and not going anywhere--he will be a career Oiler.Laddy is our #1 d-man and he is still evolving upwards,unusual for a d-man of his age,we havent seen the best of Smid yet.

Theo Peckham is a big tough as nails d-man who has above average protective instincts,will protect at the right times without needing a tap on the shoulder and he doesnt take stupid penaltys,we need his type of game--tough ,simple,effective and consistant.Remember Theos draft position it was justified and he is on track as per his peers.

Petry and J Schultz are both capable of putting up big numbers and because of that we can look for big solid tough bookends for them.We can build off of them,Laddy has the first line defensive dimension covered now we need to find one more similar to him.I see Smid and Petry as naturals together but Schultz brings a new dimension to town and he will likely need the first unit ice time to be as elite as he can be.I see Smid-Petry/Peckham-J Schultz/N Schultz-Whitney as our top six d-men.Barring trades.Dont be surprised if Justin Schultz works much better off of Peckhams style than any other--I already see the chemistry potential.

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#7 Rocknrolla
November 08 2012, 01:23PM
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JW,

They may allow the players to take their full salary, lets say its $4M for player A.

But these contracts signed prior to the CBA2012, would actually only count as 88% of their real value as a cap hit.

This would enable the make whole, pay everyone, but also enable the rollback of the "Cap" so player A would still get his $4M, honour the contract, but it counts as $3.52 against the cap. Very similar to other players having a different cap hit vs. real salary.

This may happen, I mean its all speculation, but it would solve 2 problems, players get their full salary, but it doesnt push the cap up, it artificially sets it lower, and enables teams to fit players in.

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#8 Rocknrolla
November 08 2012, 01:30PM
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speeds wrote:

It was part of the problem because they spent right to the edge of their bonus overages (4-5 mil I think?), plus Kane and Toews hit the majority of their bonuses. If EDM goes over the cap by, say, 1.5 mil to make things work that year, there isn't as much risk as their was with CHI if the unlikely happens and all 3 of RNH, Yakupov, and Schultz all hit their "A" AND "B" bonuses.

Hey Speeds,

I always hear people say it was bad cap management, but I seem to remember an article that showed the real problem.

Dale Talon didn't send the RFA qualifying offers, players immediately became free agents and he had to roughly spend about $5M more than he would have had his fax machine been working.

Now I am not sure about arbitration rights or what those guys would have gotten, but it is definitely a different scenario than poor planning or bonuses. Sounds like a big mistake that cost Talon his job.

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/story/2009/07/14/sp-hockey-blackhawks-tallon.html

Take a hard look at that table....WOW. Looks like a Tambi 2009 move!

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#9 Vaclav
November 08 2012, 02:32PM
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@Rocknrolla

I believe that Tallon elected to use the USPS to send out his qualifying offers rather than courier or fax. The players didn't receive them in time. Perhaps he thought as long as things were postmarked by said date...

Huge gaffe.

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#10 speeds
November 08 2012, 02:51PM
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@Rocknrolla

It certainly didn't help. I do think that table overstates the savings by a significant amount; it's not like all those players would have signed their qualifying offers.

CHI also had the "bad luck" of Toews being awarded the Conn Smythe, had it gone to someone without "B" bonuses, they'd have had 1.3 mil more in cap room.

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#11 They're $hittie
November 08 2012, 03:39PM
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If there is no cap hit roll backs a lot of teams are screwed and a lot of future RFA and UFA players are screwed. There will be no room to sign anyone. THe players have to know this and be fighting for the cap hit roll back.

Not liking the Eberle signing now. If all holds true his contract could really hold us back.

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#12 StHenriOilBomb
November 08 2012, 04:18PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

This runs contrary to what has been said so far, so I'm not sure why you believe it will happen.

I haven't seen anything written about this idea, but it's the one that makes most sense to me. The NHL could even use the 88% cap hit as their arbitration comparison in the "new financial landscape".

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#13 David S
November 08 2012, 10:22AM
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Horcoff, augh!

HORCOFF!!!

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#14 Archaeologuy
November 08 2012, 10:29AM
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@Jonathan Willis

In all honesty the money is another reason I figure that Hemsky has to be a piece in any trade that lands the Oilers any player of note. Just a $ In, $ Out issue.

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#15 OilClog
November 08 2012, 10:31AM
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Whitney, Gagner, MPS, Peckham, Jones will all stay in their price range

Smid will get a raise.. 3.5-4 probably?

Khabs, Souray, Sutton will be gone.

Whitney $4 Gagner $3.5 Smid $4 MPS $1.5 Peckham $1.5 Jones $1.5

$16M

it's doable. Jones will probably be flushed at somepoint, MPS and Peckham could get raises but it's not justified yet.

Add in the $12m from Hall and Ebs with just the big three on this list, you're looking at $23-24m. Doable.

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#17 LoDog
November 08 2012, 10:41AM
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Won't Hall and Eberle be a be 5.28 cap hit with a 12% reduction? And with a lower cap players can't expect to get deals that you might have expected before this CBA.

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#19 LoDog
November 08 2012, 11:01AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

If reports are to be believed, there won't be a 12 percent reduction on cap hits, just on the salary cap itself. Current contracts will continue under their current terms.

Well that would suck. Would be much worse for Nashville and Minnesota though.

I thought the caps would be reduced and this make whole thing would get them the rest of the money.

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#20 The Oilers Shot Clock
November 08 2012, 11:08AM
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I like the idea of forward thinking by doing random shoulder checks. Its not a science but more of an art to write up a contract that has value in both the real world and on paper.the long term vs short term gains far outweigh the risk vs reward matrix that any stat expert will tell you the same. I hope the management can head this advice and set themselves up with growth but not at the expense of holding themselves back with getting too carried away with irresponsibility on top of their common sense. Its a fine line. I look forward to looking back on this in a few years.

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#21 speeds
November 08 2012, 11:09AM
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Remains to be seen what happens with bonus overages in the new CBA, but EDM would have room to play with there if they remain unchanged. There's a small amount of risk there, I suppose, but they can probably feel pretty comfortable exceeding the cap by 1 or 2 mil without too much lost sleep.

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#23 Quicksilver ballet
November 08 2012, 11:20AM
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Aren't we getting ahead of ourselves a little bit here. On the heels of 3 first overall picks in a row and we're already conjuring up issues contending teams have to deal with.

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#26 Jerod
November 08 2012, 11:24AM
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I would rather hold on to some of these players and make a pitch for Seth Jones , Assuming Oilers pick in the top 10, they could trade their pick and a player to move up to get Seth Jones

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#27 speeds
November 08 2012, 11:39AM
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It was part of the problem because they spent right to the edge of their bonus overages (4-5 mil I think?), plus Kane and Toews hit the majority of their bonuses. If EDM goes over the cap by, say, 1.5 mil to make things work that year, there isn't as much risk as their was with CHI if the unlikely happens and all 3 of RNH, Yakupov, and Schultz all hit their "A" AND "B" bonuses.

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#28 Sanaa Montana
November 08 2012, 11:48AM
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Does Gagner alone get the Jets 1st round pick in 2015?

Winnipeg will become the new Edmonton, and no free-agents will want to go there. The team they have now will fall apart in a year or two, and it will all be down hill from there.

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#29 Velo
November 08 2012, 11:48AM
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Could you buy-out Horcoff and resign him on the super cheap to be the 4th line center? I'd be into that.

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#30 rubbertrout
November 08 2012, 11:50AM
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Something tells me that the wording on that whole "make whole" proposal is exactly what they are talking about now.

I don't think that any scenario that has the players "made whole" without some sort of payment exemption for current contracts that are based on the 57% revenue cap is going to fly with the players because they are essentially paying for it with their own money (by eting up a disproportionate amount of the proposed 50/50).

I hope I'm right or else we are going to have a terrible cap situation without having had much of an opportunity to put together a winning club.

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#31 Johnny
November 08 2012, 11:54AM
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I am TIRED of this Smid = 4M$. Where do you guys come up with this stuff??

The guy played 20 minutes a night last year, third most on the team, 1 minute more a game than Corry Potter. We were the second worst team in the league and probably have the worst blueline in the league as per being the worst team 3 years running. Smid FINALLY had a DECENT season and all of a sudden he is an uppper echelon defenseman??

Willie Mitchel has been playing ACTUAL outstanding shutdown hockey for years and is making 3.5M. He is a legitimate defensive defensman who is very difficult to play against.

Smid is still learning on the job and uses his hands too much when he is being "physical".

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#32 Johnny
November 08 2012, 11:56AM
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If Smid gets handed 4 bills, we will wish we had thrown the captain (Tambo) overboard because this ship is going to sink FAST.

The time of over-paying HAS to be over.

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#33 David S
November 08 2012, 12:01PM
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@NewAgeSys

Khabby is just high end playoff insurance at this point of his career--we dont need that quite yet.

Yeah, I'm thinking...NOOO!

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#34 Sanaa Montana
November 08 2012, 12:11PM
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@NewAgeSys

Someone has their Gagner goggles on, eh.;-')

Massive screw? Literally explode? Take the team to another level? C'mon son.!..

Gagner is a complimentary player, so he will either get traded or know his role for a pay cut.

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#35 ashley
November 08 2012, 12:36PM
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Great stuff, Jonathon.

I hope we all remember your last paragraph when it comes to trade deadlines and July 1's. More damage can be done to this roster on those days than any other substantially compromising our window.

"Do something Tambellini!" is not wise advice for the man in charge.

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#36 Donald *uck
November 08 2012, 01:06PM
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I believe Smid is actually a UFA. So we're going to have to pay him. Hopefully he'll take a bit of a hometown discount.

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#37 TigerUnderGlass
November 08 2012, 03:19PM
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Jerod wrote:

I would rather hold on to some of these players and make a pitch for Seth Jones , Assuming Oilers pick in the top 10, they could trade their pick and a player to move up to get Seth Jones

True. Some of these guys are in their 20's already. Time to move them out for new prospects.

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#38 TigerUnderGlass
November 08 2012, 03:25PM
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Rocknrolla wrote:

JW,

They may allow the players to take their full salary, lets say its $4M for player A.

But these contracts signed prior to the CBA2012, would actually only count as 88% of their real value as a cap hit.

This would enable the make whole, pay everyone, but also enable the rollback of the "Cap" so player A would still get his $4M, honour the contract, but it counts as $3.52 against the cap. Very similar to other players having a different cap hit vs. real salary.

This may happen, I mean its all speculation, but it would solve 2 problems, players get their full salary, but it doesnt push the cap up, it artificially sets it lower, and enables teams to fit players in.

This runs contrary to what has been said so far, so I'm not sure why you believe it will happen.

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#39 Rocknrolla
November 08 2012, 03:30PM
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speeds wrote:

It certainly didn't help. I do think that table overstates the savings by a significant amount; it's not like all those players would have signed their qualifying offers.

CHI also had the "bad luck" of Toews being awarded the Conn Smythe, had it gone to someone without "B" bonuses, they'd have had 1.3 mil more in cap room.

True point. Who knows what they would have signed for, but it would likely be a lot less. I hope that is a mistake our management will not make! Also, did not know about the Conn Smythe bonus....Wow thats an unexpected 3rd liner right there...

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#40 tom.MTL
November 08 2012, 06:09PM
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The Oilers Shot Clock wrote:

I like the idea of forward thinking by doing random shoulder checks. Its not a science but more of an art to write up a contract that has value in both the real world and on paper.the long term vs short term gains far outweigh the risk vs reward matrix that any stat expert will tell you the same. I hope the management can head this advice and set themselves up with growth but not at the expense of holding themselves back with getting too carried away with irresponsibility on top of their common sense. Its a fine line. I look forward to looking back on this in a few years.

HA!

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#41 DSF
November 08 2012, 06:16PM
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Sanaa Montana wrote:

Does Gagner alone get the Jets 1st round pick in 2015?

Winnipeg will become the new Edmonton, and no free-agents will want to go there. The team they have now will fall apart in a year or two, and it will all be down hill from there.

No.

Gagner couldn't get a second round pick at this point.

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#42 Archaeologuy
November 08 2012, 06:50PM
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DSF wrote:

No.

Gagner couldn't get a second round pick at this point.

I highly doubt that

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#43 Rocknrolla
November 08 2012, 06:53PM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

I haven't seen anything written about this idea, but it's the one that makes most sense to me. The NHL could even use the 88% cap hit as their arbitration comparison in the "new financial landscape".

Exactly, enables the goal which is to stop salaries from escalating and bring them back down now. Old players will get paid but new ones play by the new rules...

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#44 Wanyes bastard child
November 08 2012, 08:35PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I highly doubt that

If Gagner couldn't get us a second what would Wellwood fetch?

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#45 Sanaa Montana
November 08 2012, 09:19PM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

If Gagner couldn't get us a second what would Wellwood fetch?

A cheeseburger?

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#46 Wäx Män Riley
November 08 2012, 09:59PM
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Sanaa Montana wrote:

A cheeseburger?

Hehehe.... Because he is fat.

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#47 Wäx Män Riley
November 08 2012, 10:01PM
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Rocknrolla wrote:

Exactly, enables the goal which is to stop salaries from escalating and bring them back down now. Old players will get paid but new ones play by the new rules...

Sounds simple. But from what I have read, the owners simply don't want to pay that. They refuse to pay the amount they would have under the old CBA.

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#48 Sailge
November 08 2012, 10:35PM
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Jerod wrote:

I would rather hold on to some of these players and make a pitch for Seth Jones , Assuming Oilers pick in the top 10, they could trade their pick and a player to move up to get Seth Jones

How many more examples of "the Oilers don't trade up at the draft" in recent years do you need?

Good grief, man. Tambo wouldn't trade the 4th, 5th and 6th picks for 1,2, and 3. Guy's clueless.

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#49 TigerUnderGlass
November 08 2012, 11:07PM
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@Rocknrolla

New ones would play by the new rules regardless.

Every indication so far is that cap hits will not change. Certainly this could change, but there has been absolutely no indication that it will.

The league doesn't want to roll back cap hits without full salary rollbacks because it will force new salaries even lower.

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#50 michael
November 09 2012, 08:49AM
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The cap is going to come down and you think contracts are going to remain the same or escalate. whitney for example.With a reduced cap you think he gets 4-5 million.What has he done for us lately other than be on the IR list for the past 2 seasons. If anything I am showing him the door at the trade deadline this year. Jones? He is 700,000 player once the cap comes down. Smid?1.8 maybe. The reality is that owners having been overpaying for players for years.That why guys like Jones and Belanger and Eager are where they are today. Bunch of crack head GM's blowing smoke out of their collective rears have been escalating the price of 3rd and 4th line players for about 10 years now. It has to stop. 20 years ago a guy like Hordichuck makes 150,000. Now 700,000. Its insane. I hope for the leagues sake that their is a push to reduce salaries over the next 6 years. The cost of tickets can't sustain this kind stupidity by the GM's. When a nose bleed cost you a 100 bucks there wont be alot of folks putting their butts in those seats.

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