Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Signing Smitty

Well, first off: all apologies for not keeping in touch. I've been working double time down at the press release factory, missing lunches and all chances to update this blog or even check my mail.

There's been a few Oiler signings, nothing too big. Interesting thing on the Oilers trying to sign Ryan Smyth by Brownlee in the Sun: Smyth wants a long-term deal now ($2.5-3 million) instead of worrying about it when he becomes a free agent next year, whereas Lowe would rather qualify him and wait and see "what the market is" after a year.

This is probably a sensible idea on Lowe's part. The market this summer has basically been nuts, for a few reasons.
One thing is you have all these small market team that have a lot of room under the cap, with the 24% rollback - it probably won't be like this again. From now on almost every team except Minnesota (it seems) is going to be haunted by a bad deal of diminishing returns. I think Columbus is a classic example, overpaying Adam Foote for far too long. Same with Hatcher. All they have to do is become mediocre for the deal to handcuff them two years from now, and that seems likely with this year's crop of mostly older guys. Being older guys, they also wanted the security of a long term contract, which is understandable, but it seems like signing a player more than 3 years is a big risk in the new CBA. This might explain Lowe's reservation in signing up Smyth just yet, also with such a huge crop of quality UFAs next season the market might be more reasonable.

As it stands now, it's as if there never was a salary cap. I still think Lowe has overpaid almost every player but then I think every free agent is overpaid this summer. When all is said and done by October, I wonder how many teams will have raised or maintained their payroll? What was this lockout for, again?

Anyway, perhaps this escrow thing is part of new market. It's a bad concession on the NHLPA's part: If every GM overpays their players past 54% revenue then it's the players who have to pay it back to the league. Perhaps all the GMs/players are overshooting their "real" salary, hedging their bets that players will end up losing some of their pay to this escrow rule. Wait and see...then sign him.


Chris! said...

Hey Mikey, yeah, I was wondering where you were. I've been pretty smoked myself, so I guess I should apologize too--but since you tend to write all the thoughtful and interesting posts, maybe I shouldn't be.

Anyhow, Ryan Smyth: I disagree with your assessment of the situation. I hope it's not just the Oilers fan in me when I say that Smyth is, in actuality, the heart and soul of this team. Could the Oilers survive without him? I'm actually not sure. BUt think about how many teams are interested in a guy like Smyth, and think about how many of them are Western Conference teams, where his style of play works best. Frankly, $2.5-3 million is a steal for a player that rushes the net and tips pucks like Smitty does, if for no other reason than that a team like Vancouver or the recently depleted Colorado (who have been horny for Smyth for years) would easily give this guy an even $4 million.

I agree that the vast majority of FAs have been overpaid thus far, but to not offer Smyth a long-term deal would be profoundly retarded--if for no other reason than that he might end up playing against us.

But yeah: the lockout. Turns out all it did was give Pittsburgh a license to print money. Oh, and us too, of course.

Anonymous said...

Smyth is overvalued. Could the Oil survive with a similar guy wearing his jersey, eating his dinner, driving his car? Yes.
But maybe worth a signing because, frankly, he is the face of the franchise and probaby good for a bare minimum of 20-25 goals next year.
You don't want to destroy all you handy work, and actually, he is the best pure-scoring talent you have.
Still, you'd have to be looped to call him a franchise player in the tradition sense.
He likely knows this and has wrapped both arms around the idea of finishing in Edmonton long-term style. (i.e. Detroit was going to sign Steve Yzerman this year no matter what, same with Joe Sakic in Colorado).
Somewhat apropo, to the Smyth-Oilers affai, Thorton will land in Boston, hell be damned and the flames talked long and hard with Iginla about having enough money to keep Kipper on board.
The Oilers want to keep Smith for at least a year. Let things settle, bring the fans back, then re-evaluate.
They want short term, and honestly, Lowe would be dumb to break the bank on Ryan Smyth.
It's a sad statement when the Oilers pre-lockout face player is worth $3 million (max) in the new environment.
However, Smyth's value might skyrocet, if, in a week or two, he's is the only veteran scoring-forward left around when a few teams realize they've been left in the cold. But, remember, there are a lot of guys ahead of him.
This is the idea of market flux in action, and it is why Smyth wants years over dollars. This my friends is the new, exciting NHL (now with math).

Also, do you remember the "Trigger system" that may have "un-cancelled" the season. It basically boiled down to the idea that if GM's broke the rules then the GM's would get exactly what they wanted in the first place (If teams go crazy in an unlimited budget environment and spend more money than the teams could afford, then a salary cap would be imposed without linkage -- what the teams wanted all along). That would have been a worse move for the players. It was a wholly retarded bargaining plow.
Escrow, however, seems more symbolic than at all possible.


CG said...

BTW _ check out the official Oiler site and see what they have pencilled into the line up.
They only list signed players, and therefore include the likes of Dan Baum, (WHL character dude) Troy Bodie, Kyle Brodziak (who'll struggle inititally) , second round dratft pick and ECHL player Ed Caron, used up Todd Harvey, underwhelming Pengiun Toby Petersen (!!!) up front, plus New Hampshire-ite Jason Platt and Harvard Grad/ECHL standout Ken Smith on defence.
That's seven holy crappers, not to mention other borderline NHLers (Pisani and Cross spring to mind) and I thought the Roadrunners left town?
Even with Stoll/Winchster/Rita signing on Wednesday, I'm questioning quality depth, though another 25 goal scores could be in the works if they go with the rest of this minor-league all-character team, plus no Hemsky, Torres or Salmelanen.
Fuck, welcome to the NBA.
-- Collin

Pleasure Motors said...

Smyth might be overvalued, it's true, but we also can't forget that he is what seems to be a fairly rare breed of good player: one willing to play in Edmonton. I mean, if you look only talent-/point-wise, Smyth is probably on par with, say, Anson Carter (Carter 529GP, 158G, 180A, 338P, 0.64PPG vs Smyth 642GP, 198G, 232A, 430P, 0.67PPG, and Carter had an uncharacteristically shitty year where he bounced around three teams last season), but even Anson Carter doesn't want to play in Edmonton (obviously, of course, Smyth brings a lot of intangibles that make him worth more than Carter, but still, it's not a totally wild comparison).

Now, of course, maybe the Oilers just got unlucky this year, and maybe the bevy of much-more talented free agents next year will jump at the chance to play in Edmonton, but 3mil a year for a 25-goal, 60-point, gritty type like Smyth who is guaranteed to want to play here doesn't strike me as grossly out of proportion.

There's also the argument, I think, that the only way the Oil are going to attract top-flight talent is by showing people we're on the up-and-up, and you don't necessarily do that by having a good season, but having almost none of your core inked past that particular season. Considering that, by next year, Peca's 4mil will probably be gone, and we'll likely have one or two good, contributing centres (Schremp and Pouliot) making about $900,000, which would mean we could likely dump a more expensive, older guy (say Dvorak or Horcoff), to free up some cap room for a free agent or two in the
6-7mil range, I don't think it'd be totally wise to spike your top winger and a large community face (plus, it's worth noting again, probably one of the few top-tier guys who will talk up Edmonton until he keels over, dead, on Gretzky Drive) just to see what else you could get.

I don't know, I know Smyth is probably one of those players who's a hero in Edmonton while a second-liner on top teams, but that still doesn't change the fact that, while he's playing for us, we should pay him what he's worth to us. Intangibles--that's all I'm saying.

CG said...

I think we're arguing the same side of this.
I wouldn't say he's been Hercules for the club, but a pretty big reason for whatever success they've had.
There's are reasons why you don't trade your captain on a wim. It's bad optics, bad business, and exposes the GM as a poor architect.

The same applies for Smyth. Sign him. Just don't get married to the idea that he's is heading to the hall of fame as a career Oiler.

Too cruel?


Pleasure Motors said...

>>Too cruel?

Pretty fair. And I was arguing with Mike, not you. Poor, shamefully wrong, my-idea-would-work-on-NHL-2006-but-not-in-the-real-world Mike. For shame.

Though, uh, it's worth pointing out that, for some reason, Oiler players have somewhat of a history of getting grossly overvalued--Bill Ranford, Dave Manson, Luke Richardson, Boris Mirinov, Doug Weight (good, but not for the money he signed), Anson Carter, Todd Marchant, the list goes on. Do we maybe get more out of our players here, or does the rest of the league seem to think these are the types of guys who are only so-so because they're on a mediocre team, and would step it up when playing with better players (ignoring, obviously, their part in our mediocrity)?

mike w said...

>Oiler players have somewhat of a history of getting grossly overvalued--Bill Ranford, Dave Manson, Luke Richardson, Boris Mirinov, Doug Weight (good, but not for the money he signed), Anson Carter, Todd Marchant, the list goes on.

That's because they all turned 31. All free agents in the old system were overvalued because they were old and there were fewer free agents to buy up outright. Now there's gonna be a few hundred more every year, especially with the lowered UFA age.

Moreover to my post, I think I was trying to make the muddled point that the Oilers should think twice about signing too many players to long term contracts. Over paying Smyth by 1 million for 4 years is missing out on another Peca or (better yet) Hossa for one season.

I think of the new CBA as being a bit like Tetris: commit yourself to too much salary over too much time and you end up with a dead space, like 5 L-shaped pieces in a row, trying to make things fit. That's why I kinda snicker when I think of Columbus or Chicago.

mike w said...

"That's because they all turned 31"

Of course, except for the ones that were traded before they became 31. Woops.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, even I have to grudgingly tip my cap to Lowe over his keen ability to ditch guys when they're at they're about to plateau or peter out. If only he could get something of value in return, then that would be something.