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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#51 NewAgeSys
November 09 2012, 11:39AM
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Sanaa Montana wrote:

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.

Complimentary players dont score 8 pts in an NHL game,most Hall of Famers never scored 8 pts in a game.

I am no statistician but I do know there are two Gagners sharing records with the greatest man to ever play the game,a Father son combonation ,Dave scored 4pts in one period in a playoff game and we have Sams 8 pt night,exactly how many Father -Son combos can claim this fact??

Massive screw means that he already knows his role and is about to gun for his dads 40 goal best,I say he achieves it,this my friend throws a massive screw into the Oilers machine,the propoganda campaign to keep Gagners value and salary low is over.He will demand a hefty salary increase with his resume if he puts up these types of numbers,and he is now flanked by very very good players who can take him there.There has long been a Gagner debate here in Edmonton--it was supposed to end when the future superstars of the NHL were skating around with wide eyes and their mouths hanging open as Silent Sam lit the Hawks up for 8 pts --. With Yakupov and Gagner both opening up the guns the Oilers will have consistant scoring from the second line for the first time in many years.This will take the Oilers game to another level,a playoff level.Remember it is only this offense that keeps Smyth-Horcs-and Hemmer on the 3rd line,and that is yet another sign we are ready for the playoffs,we will field a pure veteran 3rd line with serious scoring ability.

I dont find it coincidental at all that I am a Gagner supporter and I got to watch him stuff his jock-strap down all of his critics throats--no one has seen that big a can of whup-arse opened up by an Oiler since Coffey did it to the Red Wings.

I can easily see how and why Sam scored those 8 pts--and it was through hard work and committment to the system he was playing--simple.There were consistant actions Sam was taking for 60 mins that paid off.Players dont step outside of their systems to score 8pts ,they step into the system to accomplish that.

Truthfully,I often wonder why we dont see more of these huge nights,simply because they are system induced,not individually catalysed by a single man,it is Sams understanding of the dynamic function of the system that allows him the chance to share sucess with his teammates,it is his system awareness that does this not just Sams physicality and skillset.

I will make sure I keep my Gagner Glasses close by ,ha ha ha,I do tend to misplace those suckers from time to time.Gagner Glasses!!that was a sharp one,ha ha ha.Nice.

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#52 Czar
November 09 2012, 04:02PM
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@NewAgeSys

As impressive as the 8 point night was I appreciate the scraps Gagner has had even more!! Kids got heart and ain't afraid to take a couple for the team.

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#53 Czar
November 09 2012, 04:05PM
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LoDog wrote:

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

He'd eat the cheese off your burger before he brought it to your table anyway. That is what he's doing for work now isn't it?

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#54 hemi
November 09 2012, 09:02PM
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Have to comment on the song, excellent version of an excellent classic. You have fine taste!

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#55 Sanaa Montana
November 09 2012, 09:30PM
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NewAgeSys wrote:

Complimentary players dont score 8 pts in an NHL game,most Hall of Famers never scored 8 pts in a game.

I am no statistician but I do know there are two Gagners sharing records with the greatest man to ever play the game,a Father son combonation ,Dave scored 4pts in one period in a playoff game and we have Sams 8 pt night,exactly how many Father -Son combos can claim this fact??

Massive screw means that he already knows his role and is about to gun for his dads 40 goal best,I say he achieves it,this my friend throws a massive screw into the Oilers machine,the propoganda campaign to keep Gagners value and salary low is over.He will demand a hefty salary increase with his resume if he puts up these types of numbers,and he is now flanked by very very good players who can take him there.There has long been a Gagner debate here in Edmonton--it was supposed to end when the future superstars of the NHL were skating around with wide eyes and their mouths hanging open as Silent Sam lit the Hawks up for 8 pts --. With Yakupov and Gagner both opening up the guns the Oilers will have consistant scoring from the second line for the first time in many years.This will take the Oilers game to another level,a playoff level.Remember it is only this offense that keeps Smyth-Horcs-and Hemmer on the 3rd line,and that is yet another sign we are ready for the playoffs,we will field a pure veteran 3rd line with serious scoring ability.

I dont find it coincidental at all that I am a Gagner supporter and I got to watch him stuff his jock-strap down all of his critics throats--no one has seen that big a can of whup-arse opened up by an Oiler since Coffey did it to the Red Wings.

I can easily see how and why Sam scored those 8 pts--and it was through hard work and committment to the system he was playing--simple.There were consistant actions Sam was taking for 60 mins that paid off.Players dont step outside of their systems to score 8pts ,they step into the system to accomplish that.

Truthfully,I often wonder why we dont see more of these huge nights,simply because they are system induced,not individually catalysed by a single man,it is Sams understanding of the dynamic function of the system that allows him the chance to share sucess with his teammates,it is his system awareness that does this not just Sams physicality and skillset.

I will make sure I keep my Gagner Glasses close by ,ha ha ha,I do tend to misplace those suckers from time to time.Gagner Glasses!!that was a sharp one,ha ha ha.Nice.

It was about as sharp as the blind squirell who found a nut one time.

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#56 NewAgeSys
November 10 2012, 10:34AM
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Czar wrote:

As impressive as the 8 point night was I appreciate the scraps Gagner has had even more!! Kids got heart and ain't afraid to take a couple for the team.

I agree 100%,when it is momentum related and proactive-- pick your spots and weight class please.Players like Sam are barometers for the rest of the team,when someone nips our belly and the barometer goes up the entire wolf-pack has to start howling together.Sam and critical offensive players like him need to be sparks,not statements,if Silent Sam throws em down then this means we SHOULD be seeing the wolves come out immediatly across the board,you bite one of our tender important bits and you bet bitten back by the whole pack.

Super-Heavyweights are lone wolves,a special breed,they go it alone and dont always require a pack mentality,Hordichuck is not a super-heavyweight,he needs backing.Our team badly needs the wolf-pack mentality every night.Sam is a good barometer as are a lot of our young guys,they arent trouble makers and if they get rattled we need to respond---we dont have an Avery on this team,so we can read the pulse easier and be proactive at the right times.

If the team supports the Wolf-pack mentality individuals will pick their spots better and endure more crap,because they wont want to see anyone in their pack to get hurt knowing full well that when the howling starts and the teeth come out someone is going to bleed,no posturing.No BS,just support and red spots on the ice,never call in the Wolves unless you mean it.Once this is the state of affairs when you play the Oilers we will generate the respect a championship team needs.

Yes,without the toughness or willingness I wouldnt be calling Silent Sam a complete player whith leadership ability,I respect him for not throwing down unless its for the team--he reminds me of Peckham that way-- he doesnt do it for himself its for the team--like Teubert has been showing us in OKC.

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